Amongst his long list of impressive attributes, Mathew Dumba's maturity goes somewhat unnoticed.
His booming shot, offensive prowess, and thunderous hitting power are what steal the headlines most often. But between the ears, he is just as impressive. Case in point, his handling of his bit of controversy.
Dumba has been suspended two games by the Western Hockey League for the checking to the head major penalty and game misconduct he incurred Friday night versus the Calgary Hitmen. (If you haven't seen the hit yet, CLICK HERE! Dumba sat out Sunday's game in Edmonton and will also sit out Friday's home game versus Medicine Hat. He will return to the Rebels lineup Saturday night in Calgary.
Not only is he taking things in stride, Dumba also realizes there is a lesson to be learned here.
"I've got to me smarter and recognize and recognize when the guy's head is down," Dumba told the local media on Monday afternoon. "Now in the game, any contact with the head is illegal. That's on my behalf and this is definitely a learning experience. Moving forward, I'll be smarter."
This, no doubt, will infuriate 'old school' hockey fans abide by the age old proverb "keep your head up." But I'll chat more about that in a moment.
The bottom line when it comes to Dumba is he doesn't see this as any sort of "witch hunt" against him or his style of play (and it's clearly not when you take a look at the list of WHL suspensions, it's a league-wide crackdown). He feels he can still play the tough, physical style that made him a top ten NHL draft pick while also abiding by the rules.
"It's just recognizing the situation and where the player is on the ice and how he's positioned and just be smarter about how I go about approaching that. If his head is down and there is going to be any contact in the head region, I can't take that hit... it's something that you've got to judge, it'll be tough, but I certainly think that it's not something that will affect my game."
If those words are any indication, and I have every reason to believe that they are, then Dumba gets it.
Anyway, back to the "keep your head up" discussion. There is certainly still plenty of credence in that statement. If a player is unaware of his surroundings then he does deserve to pay the price... but not taking a blow to the head.
With all that we have learned about concussions and head injuries over the past few years, it is important for everyone involved with the game of hockey to try and prevent such injuries. It's a daunting task no doubt, but it needs to be done. Hockey has come along way from the days of sniffing smelling salts on the bench after 'having your bell rung' to the installation of concussion protocol (aka 'the quiet room test') but there's still more to it.
As such, a heightened point of emphasis has been placed on the role of the 'hitter' in helping ensure players safety. No longer is it acceptable make an opponent's head the primary point of contact when delivering a check. Even if that check is led with the shoulder.
During our postgame show on 106.7 The Drive on Friday night, Cam Moon and Mike Moller, who have seen way more WHL games than any of us could count, offered their thoughts on the hit. You can CLICK HERE to hear their thoughts.
Bottom line from my perspective... I have no problem with the major penalty and game misconduct that was assessed and I have no problem with a two game suspension (whether this sets any sort of standard for consistency from WHL disciplinarians is an entirely different and potentially frustrating matter.)
The Red Deer Rebels continued their annual tradition this week by sending a number of players to Vancouver as part of its drug squad program. It's quite an educational experience for the boys as they get a first hand look at just how rough drug life can be. This year's group of players (Patrik Bartosak, Charles Inglis, Chad Robinson, Colten Mayor, Tyson Ness) will bring back what they've learned and share it with students at local schools throughout the season. They also get to take a lot of fun pictures, including this one courtesy of @CharlesInglis...