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07-17-2013, 08:50 PM
Rob Paxon
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A new study says a recent NHL rule change designed to cut down on the number of concussions in the league hasn't made a difference. The research suggests the rule, which outlawed bodychecks aimed at the head and checking from a player's blind side, has not led to lower concussion rates.

This doesn't necessarily mean the rule changes were a bad idea -- intentional headshots need to have massive consequences and accidental head contact is deserving of a penalty, with a worse penalty if it was reckless -- but the truth is the only way concussions will see a large reduction is through the evolution of equipment. Right now, the evolution of equipment has caused more concussions: new sticks cause faster pucks, shoulder and elbow pads are like bricks, etc.

I'm not interested in arguing the practicality or desirability of forcing players to wear full facial protection, but it's really the only way to significantly reduce concussions. Blows to the chin and mouth are what most commonly cause concussions in hockey or anything else. If they can find a way to make pads effective at protection without being hard, that would also have a major impact in a reduction of concussions. The NFL has a similar problem where the helmets themselves are causing head trauma as there's no way around the fact that helmets will bump together constantly throughout the game.

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