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Messier, Primeau put their weight behind helmet innovations

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This post is part of a series looking at the issue and impact of concussions in the NHL. ProHockeyTalk and Comcast SportsNet are featuring pieces today as a lead-in to tonight’s special edition of NHL Live on Versus (6:30 p.m. EST.)

Billy Daly and other NHL executives aren’t wrong when they say that concussions are probably an inevitable part of the current game. That being said, there’s certainly room for improvement when it comes to identifying and preventing concussions. Improving mouthguards and softening equipment such as shoulder pads could help, but here’s a quick look at some of the most intriguing innovations in hockey helmets.

“The Messier Project”

Mark Messier was one of the fiercest leaders in NHL history, but one of his post-career focuses is promoting a line of “concussion-reducing” helmets. You can see an older (and admittedly goofy-looking) version of the design in this post’s main image, but Messier told The New York Times that there are some more “traditional” looking options. (Then again, let’s hope that players care more about their health than how cool their helmets look …)

The showstopper is the foam on the inside, which out-performs the standard stuff that adorns current helmets, at least according to Cascade Sports’ research.

source:  (Image via Cascade Sports’ gallery.)

Does the foam/helmet design really make a difference? Such a claim might need some more research, but hopefully an independent party is either looking into it or will study these innovations. Football helmets have seen similar re-designs that sacrifice a little in aesthetics for a jump in protection, so it would be great to see hockey follow suit.

Keith Primeau’s helmet lights

While Messier’s line focuses on diffuses the impact of a concussive blow, the other two noteworthy helmets gravitate toward identification. The Canadian Press caught up with Keith Primeau, who is promoting “Impact Indicators.” The process is simple: if a potential concussion occurs, a light will go from green to red.

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I can just imagine the “Rudolph the Concussed Reindeer” jokes now, which is unfortunate because the idea sounds promising if the technology is sound.

A bomb expert’s take

An Ottawa entrepreneur/former bomb disposal officer named Danny Crossman is throwing his name in the hat with Impakt Protective’s “Shockbox,” which has similar aims* as the “Impact Indicator.” The device is capable of measuring the impact of a hit and then immediately sending the data to a smartphone, according to Andrew Duffy of Postmedia News.

***

Obviously there’s a commercial aspect to their endeavors, but it’s still fantastic to see Messier and Primeau putting their name recognition behind a key aspect of concussion prevention: improving equipment. Messier probably said it best to The New York Times.

“Generally in our sport we’ve spent all of our money on technology for improving sticks and skates,” Messier said. “Unfortunately none of the money has been spent on headgear, which is probably our most important equipment.”

* – Yes, I’m also a little disappointed that a bomb expert isn’t coming up with some crazy Kevlar-plated helmet, too.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.