While NHL fans sit waiting for CBA negotiations to start up again, the league's brightest stars are playing overseas. But the trip to Europe may be doing more harm than good.
On Oct. 18, the KHL released a video of their top 10 hits through the first few weeks of the regular season. Problem is, the hits that fans of Russia's national league applauded would warrant the most severe punishment in the U.S.
The video shows 10 big hits, and most (if not all) would be considered illegal and result in penalties by the standards and rules of the NHL. Throughout the video, players can be seen leaving their skates, throwing elbows and taking cheap shots — behavior that would not be permitted in North America.
Though the video is surprising, it shouldn't be a shock that there is a lack of discipline in the KHL — a league that doesn't have the greatest track record. The league is still in its infancy compared to others, but it already has had a laundry list of controversies and discipline issues. The KHL is still known by some as the home of hockey's most brutal fight in recent memory.
Several plays that are featured — including what the KHL calls the No. 1 hit — show players blatantly leaving their skates and colliding with their opponents at full speed. Once again, these are hits that would likely result in suspensions in the NHL.
When NHL players left for Europe, it was the hope of fans that they wouldn't be playing in bush leagues with cheap shots and lack of control by the officials. And while the KHL may have seemed appealing from afar, it's showing its true colors up close.
While the lockout continues, NHL players who have found refuge in Europe need responsible supervision by experienced referees that have their best interest sin mind. It's not fair that NHLers are being left open to injury as a result of negligent officials.
Gary Bettman and the owners may believe that there's "nothing to discuss" with the NHLPA right now, but videos like this should serve as an inspiration to jump-start negotiations and get a deal done.
It's time to bring the NHL back and protect its players, before it's too late to prevent a senseless career-ending injury playing somewhere else.
Screen shot via YouTube