Has the day of the crunching body-check gone from British ice hockey?
Some players are now so concerned of a referee’s over-reaction that they are no longer going for the mid-ice hit, says Sheffield Steelers’ d-man Danny Meyers.
Ironically, a big physical presence, tomorrow, against a skilled European-style Edinburgh Capitals, would be an asset - but Meyers advises caution.
“In 10 years time hockey could be a non-contact sport” he said. “The days of the big mid-ice hit or the thundering check on the boards might be over.
“Earlier this season Chad Langlais executed a perfect hip-check against Cardiff Devils- I remember because you hardly see them any more - and was penalised for tripping!
“In football, the authorities are much more aware than they used to be about the level of contact and it’s happening in hockey.
“A big player like Tim Spencer checking somebody who is about 5ft 11ins can be penalised for boarding or checking to the head and get kicked out just because of the size-mismatch.”
Veteran Steelers fans will remember the technique and timing of big hitter Steve Carpenter (2000-01) - one of the most efficient body-checker in the club’s history.
“Yes, he nearly crushed me when I was a forward - he’s one of the reasons I went back into defence” laughed Meyers.
“Players like him and Matt Cote (Bracknell Bees 1990-2000) were exceptional at it - but that sort of thing is clamped down on now.”
With Fife Flyers winning 7-4 at Coventry Blaze on Sunday, Steelers were spared the ignominy of dropping into the bottom half of the table.
Meyers said: “We are more than aware that we are not where we want to be.
“We are also aware that there can be no more slip-ups. But as we keep saying the League is different this year.
“We have had nine losses yet we are still in with a shout - that is crazy. But the underdogs are taking points off everybody.”