Blind-side hits are potentially dangerous.
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Blind-side hits are a frequent topic of debate in the hockey community. While you won't find many people advocating for these hits, you will find people debating what constitutes a blind-side hit. Generally, a blind-side hit is a body check delivered from behind or from the side to a player who cannot see it coming. Both professional and amateur hockey rules restrict blind-side hits, but they differ slightly.
A blind-side hit in hockey refers to a body check delivered to a player from a side he cannot see. This includes checks from behind and lateral checks when the player on the receiving end has his head turned away from the checking player, leaving him unable to anticipate the hit. If the player can see the checker coming, it does not constitute a blind-side hit. Blind-side checks can be especially forceful because they catch a player off-guard and leave him unable to protect his head, putting him at risk of head trauma.
Because blind-side hits catch players off-guard and leave players unable to protect their heads, they can be extremely violent and result in concussions. In 2010, Colin Campbell, the NHL's Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, estimated that 50 percent of concussions in the league were the result of blind-side hits. David Booth of the Florida Panthers was the victim of a blind-side hit in 2009 that resulted in him being taken off the ice on a stretcher and missing months of play.
In 2010 the NHL introduced a rule to prevent blind-side hits. The rule stated that "a lateral or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted." The rule has since been modified, and as of 2013 the NHL prohibits all hits to the head regardless of whether they are blind-side hits. Additionally, the prohibition on checking from behind bans all hits that target a player's back.
At the amateur level, which is governed by USA Hockey's rules, there are similar rules to prevent blind-side hits. Like the NHL, USA Hockey's rules ban hitting from behind. USA Hockey's rules prohibit checks from directly behind a player as well as those that come at an angle from behind. Like the NHL, USA Hockey does not allow hits to the head either. USA Hockey's rules state that "a player cannot contact an opponent in the head, face or neck, including with the stick or any part of the players body or equipment."
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