Laperriere against head shot rule changes

Ian Laperriere does not support potential rule changes to curb head shots. (Ron Cortes/Staff File Photo)

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LAS VEGAS -- On Tuesday, the NHL’s Board of Governors voted to tweak the wording to two different rules with regard to dangerous hits and head shots.

But if it were up to Flyers forward Ian Laperriere, the NHL would slow their approach in order to try and curb hits to the head and ultimately concussions. And that’s saying something to come from someone who missed the entirety of last season with post-concussion symptoms.

“It drives me crazy,” Laperriere said on Tuesday at a media availability for finalists for the NHL Awards at the Las Vegas Palms Casino and Resort. “I always hear the same people complain, they want the best of both worlds. The same people who were saying our game is slow and hooking is part of it ... What comes with speed? Injuries.

“You’ve got to live with the consequences when you change the game. But a good, clean hit should stay in the game.”

Starting in September, a boarding penalty will be assessed for a hit on a defenseless player that causes the victim to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The new wording requires the player delivering the check to avoid or minimize contact if his opponent is defenseless. It also allows the referee discretion to determine whether the recipient of the contact placed himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the collision and whether the check was unavoidable.

A penalty for an illegal check to the head will be assessed for a hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact. The qualifying terms “lateral or blind side” for such hits have been deleted.

Pointing toward 6-foot-9 Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara across the room, Laperriere laughed.

“I don’t care if he hits me fair or not, he’s going to hit me in the head,” Laperriere said. “It’s going to change the game if they apply it to a tee. Big guys won’t be able to hit little guys. Same thing with [Chris] Pronger. All of the sudden, you’re calling everything and you’re slowing the game down so much. That makes it tough to play.”

Laperriere remains vehemently against dangerous elbows to the head or other dirty hits, but said that some head contact will always be inevitable. With his post-concussion symptoms still nagging, especially in bright lights, Laperriere can see the argument from both sides.

Having been in the NHL for 16 seasons, he also knows a better product on the ice when he sees one.

“It’s a totally different game,” Laperriere said. “When they took away the red line [after 2004-05 lockout], there was so much more speed. Guys are machines. I am a way better athlete than when I first started playing. And plus, it’s more exciting with bigger hits.”

More than star players, that's what the NHL cannot afford to lose the most: the excitement created in the 2005 rule changes that has led it to unprecedented success and popularity in the United States.

JAGR TO PITTSBURGH? Speaking of stars... As if the Penguins did not have enough weapons already, the Flyers’ most bitter rival may be getting a little tougher to play against in the next week or so.

Five-time NHL scoring champion Jaromir Jagr, 39, may soon join either Pittsburgh or Detroit on a one-year deal. He spent the last three seasons playing in Russia, but seems to still have his scoring touch after notching a hat trick against the U.S. in the World Championships in April.

Here’s hoping the Penguins would pass out free Jager-bombs to fans if Jagr scores a hat trick next season.

On Tuesday, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma seemed to enjoy the thought of adding Jagr to his lineup.

“Hypothetically, you're talking about a guy who in his last year in the National Hockey League had 75 points,” said Bylsma, up for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year. “That's leading our team last year. That's an intriguing thing to think about -- a power-play guy, what you saw him do in the world championship against NHL-calibre players was nothing short of outstanding.”

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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