ST.LOUIS (KMOX) – I have been a huge fan of hockey my entire life. I was blessed that my parents had season tickets and they took me to the Blues games at the Arena as a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. On my wall in my office at home I still have a framed old Blues pennant that is autographed by the entire Blues team who signed it following their victory against the Atlanta Flames, which just happened to be on my birthday. I also have pictures of myself with Bob Plager, Red Berenson, Gary Unger, Bob Hess and a few others from that evening. It’s one of those moments in life you’ll never forget no matter how old you are. I’ve also had the pleasure now of covering the Blues and this league for a while now. It has been an absolute thrill to do so and sometimes I have to slap myself in the face to make sure it isn’t a dream.
But I have to tell you that this hockey fan has been turned off by this year’s playoffs. Yes, there is no doubt there have been some great story lines and some incredible play by teams and individuals again this spring. But there are two things that have stuck out to me during this year’s playoffs that have got me really upset. The first is some of these players seem to be vying for an academy award after they get hit. I mean hockey players are supposed to be one of the toughest of any professional sport and yet we’ve seen some guys lying on the ice for long periods of time acting as if they are on their last gasp of air. Aren’t players today supposed to be faster and stronger and tougher? Well I guess not the latter. I know this has been going on in the league ever since I can remember, but it’s definitely happening more often now than before. Plus, with all of the serious injuries, like concussions, we’re seeing in the game the first thing you do think is if the player has been concussed. But minutes later you’ll see that injured player back on the ice gliding around the rink. It’s like watching a soccer match with these “injuries”.
Which brings me to my next and more important point. The concussion is a very serious matter in all of pro sports including the NHL. But the liberties some of these guys are taking to go out of their way and hit another player in the head is just flat out ridiculous. I mean there’s absolutely no respect between the players on the ice anymore. And to make matters worse you have the powers that be in the league who can’t make a stern enough decision to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
In my opinion the league and the players have to deal with this problem as swiftly as humanly possible because if they continue to let this nonsense go on. All of the momentum that has been built with the gaining popularity of the sport over the last few years will be completely lost. Believe me as a lifelong fan of the game I hate being turned off by a game I grew up loving.
Scott Warmann is a host on the Sports Hub