Whether you’re playing hockey, football or another contact sport, the first piece of advice your coach gives is to keep your head up at all times. Some of the biggest hockey hits in history involve players caught with their head down at the wrong time. These three devastating hits show why all players need to skate heads-up.
Gretzky’s office is one of the most dangerous areas of the ice to skate with your head down. When you look at replays of his passing and stickhandling behind the net, you’ll notice his head stays up the entire time, as he surveys the offensive zone.
One of the most explosive examples of what can happen when you don’t keep your head up behind the net is the infamous Wendel Clarke hit on Bruce Bell. Throughout the entire clip, Bell’s helmet remains lowered as Clarke accelerates behind the net. The net and goalie make the situation worse by blocking Bell’s peripheral view. Bruce recovered to continue his NHL career, while the rest of the league kept their eyes peeled for Clarke.
Scott Stevens was the best open ice hitter of his generation, earning a reputation as a moving wall on a Stanley Cup winning blueline. In the second period of game six during the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Paul Kariya picks an errant Scott Gomez pass and rushes the blueline, sliding the puck left into the boards. As he admires his own pass, Kariya’s unable to see Stevens on a collision course.
The refs had to blow the whistle to make sure that Kariya didn’t suffer a serious injury, similar to other players who dared to drop their head around the New Jersey Devils blueline. Fortunately for Kariya and the Ducks, Paul would return and score an inspirational goal to send the series to game seven.
Taylor Hall and Drew Doughty grew up watching “Hockey Night In Canada,” so they must have heard Coach Cherry tell viewers to keep their heads up on the trolley tracks. During a Saturday night match between the Oilers and the Kings, these players provided another reminder of the importance of skating with your head up.
As Hall careens down the boards and crosses the blue line head down, Doughty plows Taylor into the boards. Hall would be OK after the hit, narrowly escaping a serious injury. Hall’s known as a physical player who risks his body, but you won’t see him making this mistake again.