The NHL has taken steps in recent years to crack down on headshots in order to make the game safer and former Boston Bruins star Marc Savard thinks that’s a positive sign.
“Players are more aware obviously now. Things are better,” he told Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup Wednesday.
Savard, who recently opened up about his struggle with post-concussion syndrome in The Players’ Tribune, does think the league can do more to deter players from injuring their peers.
“As I sit here and I think back to the [Sidney] Crosby situation with [Matt] Niskanen—I know it doesn’t look deliberate but it’s still a headshot and I think there needs to be a suspension no matter what whether it’s deliberate or not. You still hit the head whether you meant to or not.”
Niskanen’s crosscheck on Crosby was the top story in hockey for roughly a week during the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Crosby suffered a concussion but Niskanen didn’t receive any supplemental discipline.
“There needs to be time served for that just so players are even more aware so no matter what it’s an area you can’t hit,” Savard suggested. “It needs to start at, I don’t know, seven games. It needs to get up in the big numbers right away so it’s that clear.”
Savard has been out of hockey for more than six years after suffering two severe concussions within a year of one another.
“For the last couple years I’ve been doing real well,” Savard added. “I’ve been focusing on my kids, coaching and having a great time, just enjoying life with my family.
“I’m at peace now with [the fact my career is over]. The first couple years I was out of the game was really tough. I didn’t watch it as much but it’s almost like the three years I missed after I was done I kind of just ignored the game. I think it felt better that way. The last three years I’ve been watching a lot of hockey again.
“It’s something I hope people don’t have to go through because it’s a challenge.”