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Eric Lindros' drastic rule change would make hockey safer, but is it too extreme?

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Eric Lindros' drastic rule change would make hockey safer, but is it too extreme?

The NFL's new helmet rule has caused confusion and frustration in the preseason.

Routine tackles in the past have been flagged, and players, media members and fans have voiced their concerns with what exactly will be a legal tackle come the regular season.

Enough with football. Could something like this come to hockey?

If Flyers legend Eric Lindros had his way, it would, and it would go a bit further too.

Lindros said last week at See The Line, a concussion conference at Western University in London, Ontario, that he would be in favor of eliminating body contact altogether.

Via the National Post:

“Let’s get right to it. You talk about me playing. I love hockey, and I continue playing hockey. But it’s funny — the hockey I was playing all those years was really physical, and I have just as much fun [these days], but we don’t run into one another. We’re still having as much fun, the same enjoyment of it. We know concussions are down in a league without contact.”

Lindros clarified his position on Twitter, saying that he believes clean body contact still has a place in professional hockey.

Let’s unpack Lindros’ suggested rule change because there is a lot there for the hockey traditionalists to chew on. I’m sure we’ll see some in the comments section below.

Removing body contact from hockey would be a fundamental adjustment to a game that has a culture of being a tough, physical sport where hockey players notoriously play through injuries.

Hockey players have a reputation of being warriors, and they get celebrated for it. Heck, Ivan Provorov played Game 6 vs. Pittsburgh with a Grade 3 AC separation that requires eight weeks to heal. Wayne Simmonds played the entire year with more injuries than he could remember.

The toughness hockey players display on a nightly basis is admirable, but it’s also sometimes stupid. When it comes to concussions and head injuries, it’s especially dumb.

But removing body contact altogether seems extreme. If contact remains in the sport at higher levels and pro leagues, then proper body contact should be stressed in youth hockey. Perhaps limitations on contact would make sense. It's not a totally crazy idea for young players.

The point, though, shouldn’t be lost. Concussions remain a serious issue and the NHL isn’t doing enough to address it. The league won’t even admit there’s a correlation. That’s a problem.

On Friday, the same day as Lindros’ suggested rule change, the NHLPA contributed a joint donation of $3.125 million toward concussion and brain injury research.

Lindros is one of several former hockey players who have been vocal about concussions and hockey, and understandably so. Concussions are very much part of Lindros’ legacy.

There are other ways to address concussions and the sport. It begins by admitting there is a link between CTE and hockey. The NHL has taken steps in protecting its players, but it can do more.

Headshots are penalized more seriously, but there remains inconsistency in how the NHL’s Department of Player Safety governs. That’s another area that should be addressed: more consistency.

The International Ice Hockey Federation, which oversees the Olympics, European leagues and international tournaments, penalize all hits to the head. That would be an enormous step.

Let’s not get sidetracked by Lindros’ idea of removing body contact from hockey. Instead, let’s stay on the NHL to continue to do better in protecting its employees from serious brain injuries.

After all, NHL players do have families to go home to after work and lives to live after their playing days are over.

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Flyers vs. Penguins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Penguins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers would much rather go into their NHL-mandated Jan. 22-30 bye week riding a win over the Penguins than stewing over a loss to the division rival.

They'll decide their fate ahead of the break Tuesday night when the Flyers (26-17-6) host the Penguins (31-13-5).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

• If the Flyers want to beat Pittsburgh, they'll have to find a way to at least somewhat slow down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Since returning from core muscle surgery, Crosby has eight points (three goals, five assists) in four games, while Malkin has gone scoreless only twice over his last 19 games, a stretch in which he has put up 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists).

Those two have notoriously hurt the Flyers. Crosby owns 102 points (42 goals, 60 assists) in 68 career games against the Flyers and Malkin boasts 70 points (27 goals, 43 assists) in 56 lifetime meetings with the orange and black.

During the Flyers' 7-1 loss to the Penguins on Oct. 29, the lone matchup thus far in 2019-20, Crosby enjoyed a three-point game and Malkin was out. The Flyers have been far better defensively at home, so let's see what adjustments they make in Game 2 of the four-game regular-season series.

• Speaking of playing at home, the Flyers have taken significant strides in that area. They are 16-4-4 with 36 points at home after going 19-18-4 with 42 points last season.

Another important improvement has been their play against the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers are 8-2-3 vs. divisional opponents compared to a 10-16-2 mark against the Metro last season.

Interestingly, the Flyers and Penguins have been polar opposites against the Eastern and Western Conferences. The Flyers are 18-6-4 vs. the East compared to 8-11-2 against the West, while the Penguins are 11-9-3 vs. the East compared to 20-4-2 against the West.

• The Flyers will be without Michael Raffl (upper body) as rookie call-up German Rubtsov enters the lineup.

Joel Farabee, who has goals in back-to-back games, should see greater minutes.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
German Rubtsov-Connor Bunnaman-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Justin Braun

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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Sights and scenes from Flyers' 2019-20 'Meet the Team' day for fans

Sights and scenes from Flyers' 2019-20 'Meet the Team' day for fans

Before welcoming the rival Penguins to the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, the Flyers hosted their fans Sunday for the annual "Meet the Team" event.

The day consists of season ticket holders getting to meet their favorite players, take pictures, ask for autographs and skate on the Wells Fargo Center ice.

Following Tuesday's game, the Flyers go on their NHL-mandated bye week from Jan. 22-30.

So Sunday gave the fans a timely up-close-and-personal look at their 2019-20 Flyers before the extended break.

Here are some sights and scenes from the event:

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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