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...)
On the Mike Richards hit on David Booth…
That it’s a hit to the head.
On premature retirement…good hit/bad hit?
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.
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?
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.
On change….making collisions less violent. Equipment change? Up to the
players? What can be done?
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.
On a rule change negating head shots?
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.
Resistance from GMs
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.
You believe that happens?
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
On aggression being a part of the game? Deciding when and when not to hit?
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.
On there needing to be more than a 2-minute head-checking penalty?
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.
Suspension to eliminate?
Absolutely. I absolutely agree.