Thank goodness the new NHL arrived just in time to get the hitting back in hockey.
Yep, you read that correctly.
Despite months of bellyaching from those who contended the NHL had deteriorated into flag football through its new rule standards, the first round-and-a-half of the post-season has made it abundantly clear the precise opposite is true.
Without all the hooking and interference, the playoffs have delivered a nightly crunch-fest, notably of late in the Ottawa-Buffalo and Edmonton-San Jose series.
More specifically, there has already been a long list of sensational open-ice hits in the playoffs that would rattle the teeth of even the most hardnosed onlooker, including:
Remember Scott Stevens' hit on Paul Kariya in the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs? It was a stunning hit, but it stood out even more because it was the latest installment in a long series of Stevens highlight reel hits.
They stood out even more because he was one of the few players capable of the high level of skill required to deliver such a well-timed and effective blow.
Now you're seeing more of these hits, and by a wide variety of players.
Why? Well, the premium on speed and quickness is putting atletes on the ice capable of making these hits rather than slow-moving mastodons better suited to scrumming along the boards and in front of the net.
Taking out the cheap restraining fouls, or at least calling them as the penalties they always were, has helped put players on the move and in better positions to deliver hard, clean bodychecks.
Its making the game tougher and more intimidating.
Flag football, indeed.