Jacob Trouba’s hit on Nathan MacKinnon is the type of old school hockey the NHL could do without

Dec 8, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) fights Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

While leagues like the NFL have taken steps towards protecting their players, the NHL continues to live by the hockey code. The old-school, outdated code that restricts the league’s ability to showcase its world-class skill on a global level.

Less than 24 hours after New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba pummeled Chicago’s Jujhar Khaira — causing him to fall backward, smash his skull onto the ice and knock him out cold — he was able to nearly do the same to Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon. Trouba’s hit on Khaira, who was stretchered off the ice, was deemed a clean hit by the league’s Department of Player Safety because the principal point of contact was not the head. Even though the head swallowed the initial contact of Trouba’s shoulder.

For a player with a history of concussion issues, Khaira is likely going to miss a considerable amount of time.

Trouba’s hit on MacKinnon on Wednesday looked almost exactly the same. He caught MacKinnon with his head down, made initial contact with the head, but drove the force of the hit into MacKinnon’s chest. He once again was not penalized.

As crazy as this may sound, perhaps the department whose only job is player safety should actually attempt to keep players safe from reckless plays. There is an argument to be made that Trouba’s hit on Wednesday was dirty. I certainly thought it was. But could the NHL maybe realize that hits to the head, or hits with an unnecessary amount of force, are not needed to separate the opposition from the puck?

Football is the most vicious team sport in the world. But even the NFL calls penalties for unnecessary roughness.

MacKinnon left the ice on his own accord and was sent into concussion protocol. He later returned to finish the third period. Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog fought Trouba following the hit and received an extra minor penalty for instigating.

Luckily for the Avs and their top center, the worst was avoided.

Had Wednesday’s outcome been anything remotely close to what happened to Khaira, it would’ve kept a league that already struggles to promote superstars without one of its best for months. An injury to MacKinnon would be costly. Especially on a play that easily could’ve been avoided had Trouba been held accountable the day before.

It’s time for the NHL to drop the outdated code, work toward protecting its players and focus on showcasing the high-level skill in the game. It is in fact possible to be a physical sport without promoting hits that lead to long-term concussion issues.

Anaheim Ducks rookie Trevor Zegras was involved in one of the prettiest goals in NHL history on Tuesday but all we’re talking about are big hits and concussions.

That’s the problem.

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Aarif Deen
 is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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