Small sampling of players differ on whether or not to alter padding to prevent concussions

We know that concussions and head shots have been talked about ad nauseum the last year or two and that it can get tiresome for some fans to read about something that no one really has an effective way to solve. A lot of the talk has turned to changing the way the players are equipped with their padding.

A lot of pressure has been put on the executives that run the NHL to find ways to help save the players from themselves and make it easier for players to stay safe. Some of the executives want to put the onus on the players to have them figure out what they want to see done.

Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times did a quick, informal poll of Tampa Bay Lightning players to see what they think of possibly cutting down on the soft shell padding on the shoulders and elbows. With team GMs and owners not being exactly sure what they want to do, it only makes sense that the players are similarly divided over whether or not cutting back on the padding would help out.

Asked if they would be willing to reduce the size and hardness of their pads to perhaps help prevent concussions, 10 of 11 Lightning players surveyed said yes.

There were some caveats.

“As long as the (shoulder pads) still protect you along the boards,” center Steven Stamkos said.

“As long as you won’t hurt your elbow if you fall,” right wing Teddy Purcell said.

The only player who said no was right wing Steve Downie, who said, “You’ve got to protect your shoulder. You start taking away padding, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Having so many differing opinions makes it tricky to figure out what in the world the right move is to make to help the players stay safe. If or when changes are made to the equipment there are going to be some guys that are left unhappy by that. Players have a comfort level that they’re used to and some guys are even superstitious about their gear meaning that changing that up can make a player that much more uncomfortable.

Of course, the key is to make it so the players are safer on the ice and if players are unwilling to adapt to those changes, that’s their problem. After all, if players are going to continue to play recklessly and without respect for one another, changes have to be made somehow.

For that, though, Vincent Lecavlaier may have hammered home the correct way to handle situations with bad blows to the head.

“I don’t think that makes a difference,” he said of pad sizes. “Suspensions, that would do it. It has to be black and white.”

Whether or not the NHL decides to open up that process and make things black and white is up to them. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Report: Wings, Hawks, Preds in mix to sign ‘strong two-way center’ Ejdsell

2 Comments

Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.

Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.

It’s easy to see why.

He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.

“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”

Vlasic joins Canada for Worlds, extending marathon campaign

Getty
Leave a comment

Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.

On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.

Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.

From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.

In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.

And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.

During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.

Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

Stepan: ‘I’ve stunk since the playoffs started’

Getty
1 Comment

Derek Stepan knows he’s not playing very well, and he knows he’ll have to be better if the New York Rangers are going to make it past the Ottawa Senators.

With just one goal (an empty-netter) and one assist in seven playoff games, Stepan’s offensive production has fallen off a cliff after a respectable 55-point regular season, which included 38 assists.

“I’ve stunk since the playoffs started,” Stepan said, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “I’ve been not very good with the puck.”

An all-situations center, Stepan is more than just an offensive type. But he’s produced in previous playoff runs, and the Rangers need him to produce now — especially against a tight-checking Sens team that boasts a 2.00 goals-against average¬†in these playoffs.

Stepan has 45 points (18G, 27A) in 92 career playoff games.

To be fair, he’s not the only Ranger who needs to get going offensively. One of the Blueshirts’ big strengths during the regular season was their balanced scoring, with all four lines contributing — and that’s not happening right now.

No Bieksa for Anaheim tonight, but Vatanen could return

Getty
2 Comments

The Ducks will be without their most veteran skater on Friday as they look to even up their series with Edmonton.

Kevin Bieksa, who exited Game 1 with a lower-body injury following a collision with fellow d-man Shea Theodore, has been ruled out for tonight’s Game 2. It marks the first tilt the 35-year-old will miss this postseason.

Bieksa was enjoying a pretty good playoff prior to getting hurt. He racked up four assists in five games, while averaging just under 17 minutes per night. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is holding out hope Bieksa could return later in the series.

While this is a loss for the Ducks, it goes a long way in illustrating how much defensive depth they have.

While Carlyle wouldn’t confirm, all signs point to Sami Vatanen drawing in for Bieksa. Vatanen has been out since Game 1 of the Calgary series with an upper-body injury, but has resumed practicing and sounds like he’s ready to go.

“It’s always nice when a player is closer to coming back and you can potentially put them back in the lineup,” Carlyle said of Vatanen.

Anaheim dressed a blueline of Bieksa, Theodore, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour in Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat. If Vatanen can’t draw in for Bieksa, the club still has Korbinian Holzer in reserve.