It's time for NHL to change rulebook, ban any contact to head

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It's time for NHL to change rulebook, ban any contact to head originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

​For the second time in almost exactly a year, I found myself dissecting a controversial Jacob Trouba hit against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The first one came on Dec. 7, 2021 when Trouba absolutely leveled Jujhar Khaira up high, which left him unconscious on the United Center ice. It was a scary scene after he was stretchered off and sent to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.

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The second one came on Saturday when Trouba blew up Andreas Athanasiou, who wasn't hurt on the play but it sure could have. It sparked a massive scrum led by Jonathan Toews, who immediately jumped Trouba and was given a two-minute instigator penalty, a five-minute penalty for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.

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By definition, you could argue both of those were clean hits. Incidental head contact is permitted, as long as it's not the main point.

Quite frankly, I'm tired of breaking down frame-by-frame whether a check to the head is legal or not. My conclusion is that it's time for the NHL to change the rulebook and penalize any contact to the head.

Think about this: Just 24 hours after his hit on Khaira, Trouba laid a similar one on Nathan MacKinnon, who was placed in concussion protocol (although he returned later in the game). In the first round of the playoffs, Trouba's high hit on Sidney Crosby legitimately altered the series when the dead-in-the-water New York Rangers overcame a 3-1 deficit, in large part because Crosby missed Games 5 and 6.

These are the faces of the National Hockey League. Doesn't the league want to protect them?

I'm not here to call Trouba a dirty player, either. The intent is one thing, but his 6-foot-3, 209-pound frame also doesn't help his cause when he's trying to get low on a player.

My biggest issue is that all four of the hits listed above weren't penalized, not because they were missed calls, but because the NHL doesn't feel it's worth a penalty at all. That doesn't sit right with me, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that feeling.

Don't get me wrong. I love me some big, clean hits. It's an important part of the sport and it should always remain that way. I just think these types of borderline head hits aren't great, for player safety reasons and for the game in general. Fix it.

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