Cross-Checking Cause for Concern for Blue Jackets and GM Jarmo Kekalainen

By Nic Hendrickson on March 6, 2020 at 1:50 pm
Oliver Bjorkstrand
Russell LaBounty - USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of old sayings that people default to when talking about hockey, and one of the most common is "it's part of the game." While it has sentimental meaning, this line is one that's used far too often.

We hear this time and again regarding the act of cross-checking an opponent, a sentiment that Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen certainly does not agree with.

Kekalainen was on "CBJ in 30" with Bob McElligott on Friday morning, and spoke out about cross-checks, revealing that he has called for NHL general managers to revisit the ruling on them. If there's one team that has seen these actions have a negative impact on their season, it would undoubtedly be the Columbus Blue Jackets.

At different times in the season, and to different levels of severity, the Jackets have lost two forwards to unnecessary cross-checks in Emil Bemstrom and Oliver Bjorkstrand. While the latter has contributed a good deal more this season with 21 goals, a tally that still leads the team at the time of this story, Bemstrom is also proving to be an important part of the bottom-six forward corps this season.

Losing two players playing pivotal offensive roles is never easy, especially for a team that is struggling in doing just that, averaging only 2.60 goals-per-game, better than just three teams in the entire league.

Kekalainen had some strong words about the Bemstrom and Bjorkstrand cross-checks, and this could be something that could likely (and hopefully) help to make an adjustment to how the league views them.

"We lost two players [Bemstrom, Bjorkstrand] for a month from unnecessary cross-checks into the mid-section that really have nothing to do with hockey, in my opinion."

Despite being his to-the-point self, Kekalainen did seem hopeful that things could change, mentioning that many of his colleagues were in agreement with his viewpoint. The NHL will certainly need to revisit this rule that, at the current time, doesn't result in a suspension or even a penalty, which is rather confusing.

At the end of the day, this rule has to change. Needless injuries due to an action that is "just part of the game" are unacceptable and unnecessary. When teams like Columbus are having their season altered by two meaningless actions, it speaks volumes to how important this conversation is going to be in the coming months.

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