But ending careers is the price of avoiding more Boogaards. Concussions will always happen in hockey. We can punish head hits, and we are. We can develop safer equipment, and we should. But there will still be concussions, and they will still affect players unequally. Some guys will never get one, others will get several, and for those unlucky ones, yes, their careers will be over before we might like.
And that’s okay. The end of a career is not the end of the world. It is not a great tragedy. It is a job transition. An NHL player whose career is tragically, prematurely, sadly ended by concussion problems is still a young rich guy with his whole lovely life ahead of him. If Chris Pronger can’t play again, that sucks for the Flyers, but the dude got to play pro hockey for decades, become one of the greatest defensemen of his era, screw over the entire population of Edmonton, win a Cup and make, conservatively speaking, 78 bajillion dollars. He had a great run. It’s over now. To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven and now the long winter of Pronger is over and it’s time for him to figure out who he is in spring. I would wish him good luck, but the fact is the man has already been as lucky as a human being can be.
Yes, good point. The Short Shift. A contributing factor to the increased speed of the game which began in earnest during the 84-85 season with Keenan in Philly, though Shero had toyed around with it a bit in the early 70's. Emphasizing speed over stamina with 30-40 second shifts, de-emphasizing puck carrying replacing it with puck movement, a quick attack instead of sustained pressure, changing on the fly. Keenan as you know came up through Junior in the OHA where the short shift game was quite common from about the mid-70's onward. At the NHL level, in order for his young Flyers team to compete against a lot of experience, he utilized the short shift and of course was extremely successful at that time. The Oilers adapted quickly as did several other teams, youth replacing experience, skill & stamina. Speed increasing exponentially. This innovation was not without consequences, shortening careers, a Bullet Train straight lining it to where we are today....
Run n' Gun or On the Run, "a quick, sharp, shot" followed by a cacophony of ringing bells & chimes in the head all going off at once. Speed kills.
And the interesting thing about that now-not many teams use a "run and gun" offense-at least those that want to be successful in the playoffs-you can't play run and gun anymore as far as a strategy-the teams that win the Cup have SOLID defenses that play defense first. Even an offensive powerhouse like the Pens have a solid SOLID defensive mantra first. There is even some debate about that's why the Caps couldn't make it go int the playoffs, Run and Gun gets shut down in playoff hockey, so Boudreau tried to get them to become defensive, and funnily enough look what happened to him....
Of course, the teams/league can only tackle concussions when the player reports it (if not obvious).
Leafs Armstrong kept concussion hidden from team for a few days after hit.
It will be interesting in the next CBA if this point is brought up-about players keeping their concussions or related injuries hidden, if some penalty could be imposed (like termination of contract). Yes I know that seems drastic, and maybe not that bad-but players who are playing with a concussion are hurting the team when they do it IMO
NFL assigning independent (paid by league, approved by union) athletic trainers to monitor concussion situations.
As a direct result of the Cleveland Browns' failure to test quarterback Colt McCoy for a concussion on the sideline during a game, the NFL will alert all 32 teams that, effective this week, an independently certified athletics trainer will be assigned to monitor all suspected concussion-related injuries, a league official confirmed Tuesday.
The independent trainers will be paid by the NFL and approved by the NFL Players Association, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello.
The trainer's sole purpose will be to oversee the treatment of any possible concussions and ensure that the medical staffs on each sideline are following proper league protocol and testing for any head trauma. During the game, the trainers will be situated in an upstairs booth with direct communication access to each team's sideline.
The federal government will spend $1.5 million to help reduce concussions in kid's sports.
The money goes to ThinkFirst Canada, Hockey Canada, the Coaching Association of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport to support efforts to reduce the rate and severity of sports-related head injuries.
The groups will work on increasing awareness of the problem among coaches, players and parents.
Among other things, they hope to develop guidelines for fitting helmets, and provide better information about the risks and signs of head injuries and when it's safe to return to playing after an injury.
72 players have had concussions so far this season
Player agent Allan Walsh has been keeping track of the league's concussion rate, and he says if the current rate continues there could be 110 by the end of the season. That means more than 15% of NHL players will have missed games.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly called the concussion issue a difficult one and said the NHL is working to raise "the level of awareness on the issue among our clubs, coaching and training staffs, team physicians, fans and, most importantly, our players."
"While it is not a positive story, I think the focus and attention this issue is receiving in the media is a direct result of our collective efforts to raise awareness of the seriousness of the issue," he said.
One concussion this season is the result of a fight
The biggest challenge (or one of them) I am seeing is the "individuality" of concussions. These aren't like bone breaks where after 4-6 weeks generally a bone heals-everyone has a different reaction to them. Some show up right away, some a while later, some for a short time, some for indefinite times-and one never knows when they will show up again.
Baycrest health centre in Toronto, an innovations leader in brain health and aging, has begun assembling 100 former players of varying birthdates to track brain functions in a three to five year period and compare it to males in mainstream occupations.
“We’re looking at brain health and brain function,” Levine said. “We’re putting these guys through tests for memory, comparing their reactions, scanning their brains, looking at structural changes. We have a functional MRI that shows changes in blood flow and an EEG (for spontaneous electrical activity). Bottom line, it’s very thorough.”
When comparing the players to the average Joes, factors such as diet and exercise will be considered.
You have to hand it to the NHL. Here is a league that readily admits the amount of concussions sustained so far this season is on par with last season, and yet this is somehow spun as good news. As though the status quo were something to be proud of. As though scrambled brains have become a necessary hazard of the game, like lost teeth or a cut on a chin.
It all sounds pretty ludicrous, especially with Sidney Crosby, Chris Pronger, Nicklas Backstrom and so many other star players sitting out these days. But on Day 1 of the annual NHL general managers meetings at the Boca Raton Resort & Club on Monday, a league that had previously made strides with player safety now sounds content with sticking its head in the sand.
Man-games lost to concussions on the upswing in NHL
How hard is too hard and how many concussions is too many has become part of the debate during these meetings
What's changed is that the number of man-games lost to those concussions is on the rise.
That, however, was viewed as a positive by those in attendance, who for the most part seemed to agree with Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke that the issue is not quite the “epidemic” it's often made out to be.
“Guys maybe came back too soon in the past,” Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said. “Now we're doing a better job of making sure players are ready to play. I think that's actually the best thing that's come out of all of this: The culture has changed. They're not trying to be macho anymore. They realize they don't want to mess around.”
Duhatschek thinks that the "playoff marathon" will hinge on how many players get concussions (or have them "now" and will be unable to play).
While it was reported @ GM meetings in Florida early this month that # of concussions is about the same as last year, considering who has been impacted, it just seems a lot "more" players have missed time this season.
Gordie Howe fundraising for dementia (which took his wife).
Son Marty says dementia is slowing taking Gordie too. (He played in an era when concussions were never tracked.)
Gordie Howe came back from a head injury that nearly ended his career in a collision with the Leafs Teeder Kennedy in the 1950 play-offs. Gordie skated in on Kennedy who was in the corner-carrying the puck. Just before impact, Teeder pulled up sending Gordie sprawling head first into the boards. Gordie slumped to the ice covered in his own blood, a victim of a fractured skull. After a lengthy operation, Gordie survived.
For the next few hours, many thought the worst. His mother was called in case his condition worsened and an operation was performed to relieve the pressure on his brain. Howe had fractured his skull and was out for the rest of the playoffs, but he did make a remarkable recovery. The Wings, stirred by Howe's injury, defeated the Leafs in overtime of the seventh game, ending Toronto's three-year reign as Stanley Cup champions. When Detroit won the Cup with a victory over the New York Rangers, again in overtime of the seventh game, Howe was cheered when he gingerly walked onto the Olympia ice to touch the trophy.
Most doctors felt that he was lucky to escape the tragic accident with his life and that he would never play the game of hockey again. There was a fear he would lose an eye as well.
It was touch and go for awhile as he regained consciousness after the skull fracture and operation and he recuperated in hospital:
When he returned to action next season he wore a helmet for a few exhibition games before discarding it and continuing his lengthy HHOF career. That season he was not only back to playing the game, he led the entire league in scoring.
BTW a lasting souvenir of his brush with death was intermittent blinking from the neurological damage and he was given the name of "Blinky" by his teammates.
Listening to Sirius XM this morning and their "top of the hour" sports summary included one item that X (I missed the name) had filed a lawsuit against NFL et al, this being the 61st such suit filed regarding concussions.
But the Penguins have been able to take a small measure of solace in the fact they haven’t had to pay Crosby much of his team-high $9 million salary. Pittsburgh has an insurance policy in place that covers Crosby’s absence when he’s injured and out of the lineup for more than 30 games.
That security blanket is poised to disappear.
Insurance companies specializing in sports say the Penguins and other NHL teams will increasingly have to adopt the risk of million-dollar contracts alone as the number of players sidelined with concussions swells. The prospect threatens to alter the hockey industry.
For players who have suffered serious concussions — there are at least 73 players who have missed games this season with brain injuries, according to player agent Allan Walsh — new contracts will include so-called concussion exclusions.
That will mean teams won’t be able to insure those players against future brain injuries.
Bill Hubbard, chief executive of HCC Specialty, a New York-based company that also specializes in the sports industry and has insured hockey players, says it could lead to an even more troubling development for the NHL.
If more players continue to be sidelined with concussions, insurers may stop insuring players with brain injuries altogether.
“Right now you’ve got 10 per cent of the league affected by concussions,” Hubbard said. “While I don’t know where the breaking point is, at some point, if it keeps trending this way, companies are not going to be able to insure NHL players for concussions.”
Consider the Penguins’ quandary with Crosby.
He has one year left on a contract that will pay him roughly $7.5 million. If he manages to recover and return to the ice, he’ll be in line for a new long-term contract paying him at least $10 million a year.
But no insurance company is likely to insure his contract against concussions.
That means if Crosby is sidelined with yet another brain injury, the Penguins, who now make a modest profit, would be obliged to pay off his entire contract.
“I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes,” said Dan DiPofi, the Buffalo Sabres’ former chief operating officer. “Signing him to a multi-year contract, they’ll be on the hook for the whole thing. Maybe they’ll convince him to agree to a one-year contract.”