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Posted: Thursday October 30, 2008 2:41PM; Updated: Thursday October 30, 2008 2:41PM
Jim Kelley Jim Kelley >

Headhunters (cont.)

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Brandon Sutter lies on the ice after being felled by a hard but clean hit to the head by Doug Weight of the Islanders.
Brandon Sutter lies on the ice after being felled by a hard but clean hit to the head by Doug Weight of the Islanders.
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Rutherford can expect a fine for that rant, but he's not wrong and he's not alone. His comments were echoed by Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau, who also took on the league and is likely to be reprimanded for his remarks.

"I don't think we want it to become a soft league," Carbonneau told Montreal reporters. "But times have changed, guys are bigger, stronger and faster, the equipment is better and we need to look at where we're going, you know? We've had three of these big hits in the last 10 days, and all I've heard is that the three guys that did the hit, 'Well, he's not that kind of guy, he's a good guy, he doesn't usually hit that way.' Well ... if the guy is a bad guy, now he's going to get suspended and because a guy is a good guy and he doesn't do that usually, now we're not suspending him? You know, it makes no sense.

Carbonneau also appeared to take on the "you-get-what-you-deserve" school of thoughtlessness that has permeated the NHL for decades.

"I don't know if it has to be black and white but we have to do something...." he said. "I laugh because I hear people say, 'Well, his head was down.' He didn't have the puck. I don't know if you guys play hockey, but it's really hard to play hockey without putting your head down at one point; because usually the puck is on the ice."

I have a theory that Campbell took his hard stand last season at least in part because he is a father and has a son, Greg, playing in the league with the Florida Panthers. I would also argue that he was reversed by the powers-that-be in the NHL who constantly argue to "keep a certain physicality" in the game.

But Brent Sutter, coach of the New Jersey Devils and a member of the rock-hard clan of six brothers who played in the NHL, is also a father. It was his son who was felled by Doug Weight of the Islanders and he gets the last word:

"It was a hard hit, a legal hit," Sutter said about the blow that put his son in the hospital for an overnight stay, "but something has to be done about players being hit in the head while in a vulnerable position. People may say I'm old-school. The game today is better in a lot of areas. But in some areas, it's not and it's troublesome. There is a lack of respect for opponents'players. It's the way the game is played today, and there are significant injuries. It is what it is."

The upside of all this: People who never before spoke out are doing so now. Lecavalier is just the latest good man to put his name to the list, and he chose a big town with a big stage and a big head-hunter on an opposing roster as the time and place to do it. In today's NHL, it takes a certain amount of courage do to that.

Vinny Lecavalier doesn't just need to be heard, he needs to be applauded.

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