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12-16-2011, 02:19 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Mahopac, NY
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I have been a hockey fan for 50 years and I must admit to being deeply upset, concerned, and worried about the epidemic of concussions in the league.

I think about the old days of the Original Six when players didn't wear helmets and goalies didn't wear masks and shake my head as to how it was possible.

Did players just come back a few days after "having their bell rung?" They must have but I refuse to believe that if any were as badly hurt as Staal, Crosby, Savard, etc. etc. they could have returned. And yet I just don't recall that many head injuries.

The reason for all these injuries is obvious: bigger, stronger, faster skaters. In the old days it was like compact cars colliding at 65 mph. Today it is like two super-sized SUVs colliding at 80 mph. It seems that while some concussions are the result of fights or dirty/marginal hits, more are the result of legal hits, accidental collisions or checks against the boards.

Something needs to be done. Our game has a dangerous and destructive problem that must be addressed. I certainly don't have any solutions that have not been thought of before. All my suggestions are financially not practical, destructive to the wonderful speed and flow of the game post-lock out, or would change the game drastically.

1. Increase the size of the rinks. Today's players have simply outgrown the ice surface that was designed for smaller men. We all know this will never happen for monetary reasons but JD last night mentioned a small increase in width like they have in Finland. Something that must be considered.....

2. Slow down the game by allowing clutching and grabbing. Ugh, do we really want to go back to the ugly days of the trap and the Devils? I don't.

3. Going to a permanent 4 against 4 game to increase the amount of space on a regulation rink. I hate this idea as it changes the game drastically. But hockey has done this before: once it was 5 against 5 (plus the goalies) with the extra man designated as a "rover." Maybe it is time to at least think about (and try in the AHL), four against four.

Also: something needs to be done about the helmets (I know a lot of research is being done about this). Maybe more protection should be added to the sides of the helmets near the ears. I wonder if any studies have been done showing the direction of the hit or check that caused concussions? Are most from the front, back, or side? Joe Michelleti half jokingly said last night that maybe they should wear football style helmets. Something to think about (aside: one of the best things about the Original Six was that without helmets you could see the guys faces. It made the connection with the players much more intimate: heck, you could even tell when they got haircuts).

And one more thing? Can we just lay off the guys who have been hurt? This is a serious business here. Players are certainly not dogging it. I'm sure some would return quicker but are prevented from doing so by doctors. That is as it should be....players can be their own worst enemy.

Again, overall....this is a major, major issue that is a threat to this great sport. I know we are all tired of hearing the "c" word. I know most of you hate Sydney Crosby (I get to see the other side because my son-in-law is a Pens fan), but the thought that we could lose this generational talent before he even enters his prime is deeply disturbing.

We have 1/3 of our D-corp out. Other teams are hurting. The whole sport is in trouble. I know the league and the players association are deeply involved in research, study, and discussion. I hope they come up with something quickly.

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