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Keith Primeau Talks about Mike Richards/David Booth Hit

Primeau Our good pal Josh Rimer sent over this transcript of an interview done by Darren Dreger and Bill Waters with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau regarding the David Booth hit.

Primeau was not a fan of it for obvious reasons. Primeau, you may remember, had his career shut short because of hits to the head. I'm no hockey softy, but I agree: Shots to the head need to be eliminated. There's too much at stake. But I digress.

The interview was done on Leafs Lunch on Toronto's AM-640:

(Speaking of radio, I'll be on with Calgary's Fan 960 at 4:25 p.m. Check it out here...)

Darren Dreger: On the Mike Richards hit on David Booth…

Keith Primeau: That it’s a hit to the head.  

DD: On premature retirement…good hit/bad hit?

Am640Marliesjpg KP: As I’m sitting here waiting to come on with you guys, I’m thinking: what do you talk about? Where does the conversation go?  Does it continue to go around in circles?  And my thought process is did anybody sitting there watching that, no matter who the victim was, or who the perpetrator was, just the incident itself saying that was an awesome hit. I don’t know whose fault it is. I don’t know who’s to blame.  I just know that there’s not a place. 

Bill Waters: Take the opportunity to make a hit, knowing that there could be a penalty if it’s shoulder to the head?  What does a player do?

KP: Good question.  And that’s the way we really got to dissect it.  As a former player, I’m looking to make contact.  I wanna make contact on the guy comin' through the middle, with maybe his head down.  That’s my responsibility.  If I turn away from the hit and I do that not just once but multiple times over a game or over a period of time, they begin to label me as a soft player.  So, I want to make contact there.  But, at the end of the day there’s contact and then there’s head contact and that for me is the difference.  Whatever the situation is, whatever the result is, it’s still a punishable act.  And, that to me is where the problem is because it should be punished. 

BW: On change….making collisions less violent.  Equipment change? Up to the players? What can be done?

KP: I don’t disagree. I think there’s lots of different issues at hand.  That certainly is one of the pieces of the equation.  For me, again, the question was how do we do it different?  How does that scenario become different?  For me the scenario is: it’s gotta be body contact.  If he’s going to make that hit over the middle, it’s gotta be contact to the player’s body.  Ultimately it could be the same result.  I’m here to tell you that from my past history that it’s a cumulative effect and I certainly don’t discount the amount of body contact over the years as not having an impact.  It certainly did.  But still, the head, there has to be off limits or else we’re creating and we’re setting a dangerous precedent.  And so for me, what has to happen is when he’s coming through the middle and he wants to make contact because he’s not going to be known as a soft player, he’s gotta make body contact.  There can’t be contact to the head. 

DD: On a rule change negating head shots?

KP: Absolutely.  There has to be a line drawn in the sand. If we’re gonna make a change, there’s got to be a line drawn in the sand.  If it’s not going to be the players whether it’s monitoring themselves or the equipment needs themselves, then somebody has to do it.

DD: Resistance from GMs

KP: I know they don’t.  That’s where for me it becomes frustrating because I’m a real, live human being.  I know it’s a game.  And I know I’m accepting inherent risks.  But, I still have a life.  It impacts a player’s life when he’s gone.  You have to protect that because although you may not recognize that they’re human beings, they are.  This is the part of the puzzle that really hurts me is that they don’t recognize….my biggest fear is that it becomes the accepted norm and it is becoming the accepted norm.  We’ll just build it into our business model that we’re going to have players who are going to miss because of post-concussion or head trauma. And that’s not right. 

DD: You believe that happens?

KP: I honestly believe that it’s becoming an accepted norm that this is the game; this is the game we play; we play hard-nosed.  I don’t disagree with any of that.  But, the head has to be off limits.  If you still go out there and you still suffer from concussion symptoms because you’re a physical player and you play contact, or they don’t ban fighting and you’re out there and you’re a fighter, those are inherent risks.  I accept that.   But when somebody catches you in the corner, or coming across the middle or in front of the net with an elbow or a shoulder or a stick to the head and you have no defense and you can’t talk straight for the next six weeks, then that’s a problem.  That’s a real problem. 

BW: On aggression being a part of the game? Deciding when and when not to hit? 

KP: Right, and again, even though it becomes a punishable act, doesn’t mean that it’s gonna disappear.  Those situations, same as any other, cross-check from behind, hitting somebody into the boards on a race for an icing call, those things still happen.  It’s still a reactionary game.  But you have to find a way to begin to protect the players.  If you just allow it go roughshod, then that’s what’s your going to get.  I feel for the victim.  The perpetrator is irrelevant in the situation.  The point is: it’s the act. It’s the incident. That has to be punishable. 

BW: On there needing to be more than a 2-minute head-checking penalty?

KP: For starters, the incident the other night was a five and a ten.  And some people will say that’s fair.  Who am I? I’m not judge or jury.  Other people say there should be a suspension.

BW: Suspension to eliminate?

KP: Absolutely. I absolutely agree. 


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You have to love that the league suspends Steve Ott for the hit on coliacovo...Hip check while the players are face to face. But a shot to the head that sends a player on a stretcher ...no suspension...PATHETIC!!!!

Source - ESPN.com:
fredTHEfreak: Hi Pierre. Within current rules, Mike Richard's hit on David Booth was legal. Booth had just passed the puck, so it wasn't a late hit. Richards used his shoulder and didn't leave his feet, so it was a clean check. The only real questionable thing was it was a blow to the head - which isn't against the rules - and it resulted in an injury. But, as much as a good open-ice hit can entertain, everyone agrees that it's not a good thing when it leads to this. And, it's been happening for a while. The NHL says the right things about blows to the head having no place in the game, but it seems every time this happens, they look at it and say, "Well .'. the hit wasn't against the current rules ... play on." My question is, what will it take for this farce of a policy to change?

PSWii60-Elite: Here we are, only a couple weeks into the season, and how many questionable hits have we seen? I love the game of hockey and I love the physicality of it. But I'm getting disgusted by the lack of respect that these players seem to have for one another. The hits from behind, the high elbows and shoulders being thrown at unsuspecting players is getting out of hand. I think it's time for the league to implement a policy not unlike footballs policy of hitting a receiver in a vulnerable position. I love this product, and the players are the product, everything possible should be done to ensure they stay where they should be, on the ice and off the stretchers.

My take: I've covered the NHL for 15 years, and every single season, it seems there's a time when the focus is on dirty hits or hits to the head. The NHL's 30 GMs, the caretakers of the game, have debated this subject for a long time and again tried to come up with solutions this spring at their annual meeting in Florida. But legislating body contact in a game, where its very essence is based on physical play, is very difficult.

I, too, wish there were a way to better protect NHL players the way the NFL does with hits to the head or helmet-to-helmet hits. But outlawing a clean shoulder-to-head hit could alter the way the game is played in ways we don't want. My stomach turned when I saw Mike Richards drill David Booth because while the hit technically may have been clean, as the NHL concluded, I don't think the intent was. The Flyers' captain knew that the Panthers sniper was looking away and that he was about to cause major damage. But how do you legislate intent? We'll be arguing about this for years to come, just like we have been for decades already.

Easy: if a player goes into a check where his should is at head level, suspend him. Booth wasn't going to jump up so Richards' shoulder would make contact with Booth's. Richards knew damn well what he was going to hit and it definitely wasn't going to be shoulder or chest.

Because of the current rules players get away with this stuff. Richards knew that there would be little or no retaliation because the Panthers have no one to protect the players. This never happened when Laus was around. Teams know they can intimidate the Panthers. Until the rules change--let's face it--pro hockey is a rough game and these incidents will happen, whether by accident or not. How many players run at Ovechkin or Crosby--very rare, they know they can't get away with it. The Flyers have done this stuff for years. Let's face it the crowds love the hard hitting and fighting as much as a pretty goal. Gary Bettman and his cronies can hide behind the fact that there wasn't a "rule" to eliminate this sort of behaviour. One of these days a player will get paralyzed or even worse. The NHL will say the player was within the rules, while some family mourns.

Flyer Mike Richards' flyin' like a rag doll:




I know the hits are clean but they are head shots with attempt to injure. How many time does he need to do this before getting suspended. Whoever said Richards is not that type of player watch these... he has a history of head shots... I hope the panthers get a enforcer before the next Flyer game....

Sorry he 1st video link dosent work. try putting Rchards hits petrovicky

You DONT need another rule, instead you need to lose one. Respect comes from a healthy dose of fear. You remove the instigator rule and allow enforcers to beat the tar out of players who act like thugs and the high hits WILL stop.

We can find a healthy middle ground between the days of the Broad Street Bullies and Todays Sissy-land.

Wow, respect from fear. Why not hire some local gangs to break the shins of anyone who runs the a Panthers player? Besides, even without the instigator penalty there's noone on the team that'll fight. And what would happen? Our thug challenges Richards to a fight, he declines or turtles, their thug returns the favor (against ours or against a non-fighter) and Richards is still free to go. The process repeats every time.

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