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October 09, 2000
When experts convened to discuss the state of the NHL, the ideas ranged from a one-game Stanley Cup final to junking the red line to disarming the players
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October 09, 2000

Check It Out

When experts convened to discuss the state of the NHL, the ideas ranged from a one-game Stanley Cup final to junking the red line to disarming the players

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SI: Did they ever respect each other? Did Wayne Maki and Ted Green, who engaged in a legendary stick fight in the 1960s, respect each other? Gordie Howe with his elbows up...

DAVIDSON: When Gordie Howe threw an elbow, you didn't see a guy out for two weeks with a concussion. The elbow pads the players wear now are dangerous, and the league has set up a committee to look into equipment.

SHANAHAN: We have to ask whether players are wearing something for protection or more to use it as a weapon. I wear the old-style shoulder pads. I can deliver hits, but I can't run a guy because I have to protect myself. But some guys are getting into football-style shoulder pads—these pads are more of a weapon.

SATHER: Everybody says violence is a problem that the league or the governors should deal with. It's never a problem for the players because the agents don't want to push their clients to stop the violence. But the players are the ones who inflict the damage on each other. In the old days guys would put their sticks up to protect themselves, and you didn't run a guy because you knew you were going to get a stick in the face. But now players wear face masks, helmets; they've got armor on their shoulders and their elbows. When I played, there were things you could get away with. But there was also respect for each other. Players don't have that same respect because [with expansion] they don't see each other as much anymore.

MEEHAN: Hey, Glen, I've often wondered why the league wouldn't convene a session with the players' association to say, "Hey, we had 40 suspensions last year, and we've got a problem. So what do the players think? What about the penalties today? What do you think about your safety out there?" Let's get something on the table, develop a consensus. The league is not doing enough. League representatives should be in every dressing room at the beginning of the season saying something along the lines of "This can't continue, for the benefit of everybody."

DAVIDSON: I saw Jeff Beukeboom yesterday at a golf tournament. He's still hurting from that career-ending concussion [from a punch thrown by Matt Johnson]. Do you know what happened after Johnson lost a good chunk of his salary [$95,121, for his 12-game suspension]? The players on his team took a collection for him. That's no respect. That's dead wrong.

SI: Are concussions at epidemic levels?

DAVIDSON: We're seeing players who are getting their second, third, fourth ones, and their careers are on the line.

SI: Would you favor outlawing blows to me head?

SATHER: Why do you ever have to hit a guy on the head? That started when guys began to wear helmets, when face masks came in. Twenty years ago guys respected each other, and they were very careful not to hit each other on the head.

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