A mainstream media type opined recently that speed wasn’t the reason that NHL concussions are on the rise.
I don’t have the data in front of me, so I can’t comment one way or the other. But besides the fact that the medical and sports world knows much more about concussion (and its long-term effects) than ever before and also how to properly diagnose concussions, there have to be some reasons why this is happening, eh?
I’m certainly not well informed on this subject, but surely the speed of the game, combined with the size of the players and the sheer force of the hits at such high speed (with that hard equipment) is taking a toll.
Players hear it from coaches, scouts, management—and fans—that we all want players to hit hard, play tough, etc. It’s all part of the culture that has been ingrained in hockey players for generations.
And we absolutely don’t want to lose the physical nature of the game. Fans don’t. The players don’t. Brooks Laich of the Capitals spoke out strongly on this subject not long ago. Virtually no one wants to get rid of the physical aspect of hockey.
But surely we need to find a balance, if one exists, an approach to rules - and expectations within the game- that could derail the shocking number of diagnosed concussions and still allow for some real hitting in the game. (I realize it’s a slippery line…if you can’t hit “high” and you can’t hit “low”, there isn’t much room to hit a guy, is there?)
And yes, the Leafs are among the NHL teams who have been snake bit this season because of concussions. Already, James Reimer, John-Michael Liles and Colby Armstrong have been affected (and Colton Orr last season), but that is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is happening around the league—and that’s a scary thought.
As opposed to thinking about who has concussions, the easier question to answer may be: name the teams who have not been impacted by concussion in recent years, including this season?
We know that just in the past half dozen years, Eric Lindros (his younger brother, a high-draft pick, had to retire in his early 20s), Paul Kariya, Keith Primeau and many other outstanding players saw their careers curtailed and ultimately ended by concussion.
I don’t have a comprehensive list of affected (current) players in front of me, but off the top of my head, here are just a few of the big-name guys and/or rising young players that I am aware of who have been injured with a concussion- and there have to be many more:
- Pittsburgh- Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang
- Philadelphia- Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger
- New York Rangers- Marc Staal
- Boston- Marc Savard, Nathan Horton (since returned)
- Ottawa- Daniel Alfreddson, Milan Michalek
- Buffalo- Tyler Myers, Nathan Gerbe, Ryan Miller
- Islanders- Al Montoya, Steve Staios
- Washington- Jay Beagle, Nick Backstrom
- Tampa Bay- Victor Hedman
- Carolina- Jeff Skinner
- Toronto- James Reimer, Colby Armstrong, John-Michael Liles
- Montreal- Max Pacioretty (returned)
- New Jersey-
- Florida Panthers-
- St. Louis- Alex Steen, Andy Mcdonald
- Nashville- Shea Weber
- Edmonton- Ben Eager, Colton Teubert
- San Jose-
- Minnesota- Guy Latendresse
- Los Angeles- Mike Richards, Simon Gagne
- Columbus- Radek Martinek
- Colorado- Peter Mueller
- Chicago- Marcus Kruger, Daniel Carcillo
- Anaheim- Matt Beleskey
- Calgary- Alex Tanguay
I’m sure I’m missing guys, and you can fill in the blanks for me.
I don’t have a solution, but I’d be interested in hearing from you as to whether you feel this is one of the big issues facing the game—not only for the health of the players, but because we are seeing a game diminished because some of the very best can’t take to the ice any more—and some we may never see again.