Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quit Talking About Concussions and do Something for Crying out Loud

So apparently Sidney Crosby will be speaking to the media on Wednesday, addressing the state of his recovery and comeback from a concussion.

The last time Crosby played for the Penguins was January 2011. He was forced to take the last half of the season off after multiple blows to the head in back to back games.

His press confernce comes after a summer filled with the self-inflicted deaths of multiple NHL enforcers (speculated by many to be due to depression caused by head injuries), the announcement that all star Marc Savard will miss yet another season because of post-concussion syndrome, and growing awareness of the severity of these types of injuries in all professional sports.

So what will come of all the recent attention?

To answer that, lets look a what the NHL has done so far to protect their players:
  • the laughable "research and development" camp, which was aimed more at increasing scoring than protecting players. Seriously, all this expereince and these resources at their disposal and the best the NHL could come up with was Brian Burke's retarded "bear hug"?
  • the ridiculous concussion rule changes last March. For those who don't recall, players showing "concussion like symptoms" have to head off-ice with their team's trainer for 15 minutes to determine weather or not they're good to keep playing. Assuming the coaching staff is willing to lose a player for at least 15 minutes, do you really think they'll be able to diagnose a concussion based on that 15 minute chat? According to wikipedia, the symptoms of a concussion include confusion, slurred speech and difficulty focusing attention. So by that rational I'm diagnosing Ilya Bryzgalov is the most concussed player in NHL history. And I didn't need 15 minutes.

  • Gary Bettman and NHLPA Boss Donald Fehr released a joint statement stating they were alarmed by the deaths. Wow. Good job guys. This is perhaps the most cookie-cutter response to a tragic situation I've ever seen. This instills me with absolutely zero confidence that you know what to do or have a reasonable action plan in place to address these problems.
So where does that leave the NHL?

In exactly the same spot it was last year.
And the year before that.
And the year before that, too. 
You see, all this concussion furor will unfortunatley blow over, soon to be replaced by labour disputes and disruptions as the NHL's collective barganing deal expires next summer. The fact that the NHL's responses to the concussion issue have been both infrequent and impotent tells me that they don't expect to find any solutions. And so all of the tragedy that's transpired over the past year will be for naught.

So keep up the great work NHL. Seriously. 

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