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Through the 5 Hole


November 10, 2009 5:35 PM

NHL needs closer look at head shots

tucker photo.gifLet's hope the NHL general managers take a serious look at hits to the head during their meetings in Toronto this week.

Colorado Avalanche left wing Darcy Tucker (right) can attest to the danger of head shots, having been victimized by Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu in an Oct. 23 game.

Tucker lost consciousness and was wheeled off the Pepsi Center ice on a backboard. He suffered a concussion and needed about 40 stitches to close a gash on his forehead.

Tucker missed eight games and is expected to return Wednesday night when the Avalanche plays in Chicago
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Ruutu was assessed a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct. He also was suspended for three games by the NHL.

But Tucker holds no ill will towards Ruutu, who called him the day after the incident.

"I don't think he had the intention to hurt me," Tucker said Tuesday. "He had the intention to finish his check on a feisty player. He played the game hard, he finished his check and I was in a spot where I was vulnerable. I hit the glass with my face in the wrong spot and it knocked me out."

Is there much more the NHL can do to limit these incidents?

"I have full faith in the NHL and what they try to accommplish with their players and keeping them safe," Tucker said. "Whatever they mandate, it's up to the players to follow the rules."

The irony is that Tucker has a reputation for playing over the edge, and he long has been accused of going after opponents' knees.

"I hit hard and I get hit hard," he said. "You  just hope you don't put somebody in a vulnerable spot where you hurt them."

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