Gravley: Hits to the head should utilize NHL review

May 8, 2019

Boston’s Charlie McAvoy won’t play in Game 1 against the Hurricanes. He is serving a one game suspension for a hit to the head of Columbus’ Josh Anderson in Game 6.

Whether McAvoy intended to head hunt Anderson, the live action call was immediate, and McAvoy went to the box to serve a two minute penalty. But you didn’t have to look at the replay long to see the severity of the blow to the head and McAvoy should have spent the rest of the night in the locker room.

Why wasn’t he kicked out of the game like the Hurricanes’ Micheal Ferland was in the opening series with Washington? Ferland’s “hit to the head” was as much Nic Dowd coming in contact with Ferland as it was him going head hunting. Rod Brind’Amour went ballistic and rightfully so. As expletives left his mouth he pointed to the Jumbotron asking the official to take a look at the play.

The problem is, that’s not a reviewable play in the NHL, and I just don’t get that.

The use of review on hits to the head would be worth the wait. Some people get their undies in a bundle when talking about how review would slow down the flow of the game. But on a safety issue, wouldn’t it be worth the extra time to enforce the proper punishment immediately? Or maybe there is no punishment.

Football can use replay to help determine whether or not targeting should be called. Reviews have led to guilty players being ejected from the game. Why shouldn’t the NHL use review to do the same?

We can’t stand on top of the medical mountain and shout about head trauma and player safety but ignore an opportunity to review potential damaging hits to the head.

It is impossible for officials to see every, single thing that happens on the ice. I get that. I just don’t think there is anything wrong with a little video review help on hits to the head.

We don’t seem to mind an extra set of eyes reviewing whether it’s a goal or not. We should apply the same rule to hits to the head. Whether it’s a shoulder, a knee or even a fist; if there is contact to a player’s head, the best avenue to the right call is what we all should be hoping for.