Warriors Director of Hockey Operations Alan Millar is weighing in on the recent seven game suspension handed to forward Cody Beach.
The incident happened in the third period of last Thursday's WHL regular season opener. Beach hit Wheat Kings forward Bruno Mraz, who was tied up with a Warrior coming out from behind the net. He was issued a five minute major and a game misconduct for checking to the head.
The team found out about the suspension on the weekend, and Millar says they weren't surprised with the amount of games. "We suspected something in the six to ten game range based on what we had gone thru with the league in terms of the '7 Point Plan'," said Millar. "All the direction we had from the league, we knew that the issue of checking to the head, concussions, player safety is at the forefront right now."
The "7 Point Plan" was devised by the league to help reduce blows to the head and in turn was to hopefully reduce the amount of concussions and injuries. Among the many points in the plan is new rules regarding checks to the head.
Millar says this incident gave the WHL an opportunity to set the standard on dealing with the new rules and checks to the head. "The league was presented with an opportunity of a hit that was exactly of what we don't want. They were able to say "hey guys, here's the standard, here's the punishment if guys are going to take liberties and hit players in a vulnerable position to head" and they came down hard with a seven game suspension."
"You always want to be in defence of your players, and we are in defence of our players. In saying that, this was a hit that we really don't have a lot of defence for based on what the new rule is."
"I think it allowed the league office to set the standard early, and hopefully as part of the education process, and part of the impact of this significant suspension, we can work our way that these hits are less and less and we can get them out of the game," added Millar.
Beach served the first game of the seven game suspension last Friday, and won't be able to return to the lineup until October 14th's game against Swift Current.
In the meantime, the Warriors are back at Mosaic Place this afternoon getting ready for a five game home stand will run until Thanksgiving. The first game is this Friday against Prince Albert. They'll also have games against Swift Current, Lethbridge, Edmonton, and Prince George.