Off the Ice: John Kelly

FOX Sports Midwest

The recently completed Winter Olympics in Vancouver produced the best men’s hockey tournament since the NHL began sending its players in 1998.  Team USA was perhaps the surprise of the tournament and richly deserved at least the Silver Medal.  Had Team USA not pounded Canada in a preliminary game a week before the Gold Medal game I think they would’ve finished in first.  But going into the final game, Canada knew the U.S. was a great team and took a dramatic overtime goal by Sidney Crosby to clinch the Gold. Not to take anything away from Canada, but had they not met earlier in the tournament I think USA  ambushes the Canadians and takes home Gold.  

The ratings for the entire men’s hockey tournament garnered incredible ratings with the Gold Medal game being watched by close to 30 million people in the U.S.. In Canada 85% of the country watched the final game.  However, the bounce the NHL was looking for coming out of the Olympics is apparently missing.  Versus broadcast games on four consecutive nights after NHL play resumed and their rating was actually lower than the ratings from their games before the Olympics.  And NBC’s rating for their first Sunday game between Chicago and Detroit was only slightly better than previous pre-Olympic games, but the overall rating of 1.2 was very weak.

NHL General Managers are meeting in Florida this week and one of the prime subjects on the docket is what to do about blows to the head.  The timing of the meetings couldn’t be any better.  I’m sure most of you have seen Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke’s shoulder hit to the head of Boston’s Marc Savard on Sunday.  Savard was knocked cold, had to be carried off on a stretcher and has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 concussion.

I know hockey has always been a man’s game and hitting has been and always will be a big part of the game, but enough is enough.  The GM’s should recommend a rule that severely punishes any player who hits another player with a blow to the head.  Plenty of athletes have had premature end to their careers because of post-concussion syndrome and it’s only a matter of time before an NHL player suffers a very serious injury.  Lets get blows to the head under any circumstance out of the game.

The Blues recent run of five wins over their last six games has the team playing its best hockey of the year. Although they haven’t picked up any points on the eighth place team (as a matter of fact they’ve lost ground lately) don’t be alarmed. If  Davis Payne’s club wins four out of every five games they’ll be there at the end.  The Blues sit four games over five-hundred and will need to get to at least 10 over to get to 92 points and have a chance for playoff hockey.  If they could go 11-5-1 the rest of the way that would get them to 92 and it should get them in.