Sidney Crosby

NHL to implement concussion ‘spotters’ at games (Updated)


The NHL is taking a page from the NFL when it comes to concussion protocol.

Over the weekend, deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to Le Journal de Montreal that, this season, there will be “spotters” in the stands looking for signs of player concussions.

This is, as mentioned above, similar to the move the NFL made in 2012 with its ACT Spotters, a program in which certified athletic trainers were in place at every game — in the press box — to watch for potential head injuries.

This year, the NFL placed even more power in the spotters’ hands, allowing them to stop the game and remove a player showing signs of a possible concussion.

There will be some differences between the NHL and NFL systems, however.

From Le Journal (translated):

In the NFL, observers are physicians who are employed by the league and are not confined to a single city.

NHL will be different.

It will not necessarily be a doctor (not a requirement) that will take this position and in addition, that person will be paid by the local team. It will be placed in the stands at a secret location and will always remain in the same city.

Le Journal reports the NHL decided to implement spotters because “too many teams decided to flout” the previous concussion protocol, which called for potentially concussed players to exit the ice and head to the “quiet room” for examination.

Update: Here’s further info from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, some of which is contrary to the Le Journal report.

There have been club concussion spotters for the past few seasons — people hired by teams — but this season they will be independent. There will be two designated people per building with varied backgrounds who will split the games.

Their only given job on any given night will be spotting for any visible signs of concussion. They will log all those incidents into a file.

If or when a club wants to use the league spotter instead of their own, they can do that, in which case the spotter will have communication abilities down to the bench to talk to the trainer. But on most nights, because most clubs want to maintain this responsibility in-house, the new independent spotters are there just logging incidents.

Wings hope Franzen (concussion) is cleared at camp

Detroit Red Wings v Edmonton Oilers

The Detroit Red Wings are hoping to have veteran Johan Franzen in the lineup this season.

Franzen has not played since suffering his latest concussion on Jan. 6. The 35-year-old appeared in 33 games last season scoring seven goals and 15 assists.

Wings’ GM Ken Holland has been in contact with the Swede over the summer and is hoping Franzen is cleared for contact next month.

“My expectations and hopes are he’s going to be cleared when he takes his physical at camp,” Holland told “Ultimately, it’s in the hands of Dr. Kutcher.”

“Johan told me he’s gotten better over the course of the summer. He’s pushed himself hard to test it. So far, so good.”

As Ansar Khan notes, even if Franzen is cleared at camp, how he handles contact drills and preseason games will go a long way to determining whether he’ll suit up for his 11th NHL season.

“Obviously, there’s a history of concussions. I can’t read the future,” said Holland. “I expect he’ll take his physical and pass it and resume his career. As he skates and trains every day, if he has no setbacks — I don’t know why he would — I’m expecting his body is going to tell him.”

Franzen trained hard towards the end of the season for a return in the playoffs, but admitted in May that he suffered a setback.

NHL ordered to turn over concussion data as part of lawsuit

Beyond Sport United 2015

U.S. Federal Court judge Susan Nelson ordered the NHL to turn over “reams of data about injuries and concussions” as part of an ongoing lawsuit, TSN’s Rick Westhead reports.

Approximately 80 former players are involved in the legal matter.

Here’s what Nelson wrote in her ruling, via Westhead:

“The Court finds that the (NHL’s) blanket application of the physician-patient privilege – protecting all medical data from disclosure – is inapplicable here,” Nelson wrote.

“The clubs are ordered to produce any internal reports, studies, analyses and databases in their possession (whether initiated by the U.S. clubs, NHL, or retained researchers) for the purpose of studying concussions in de-identified form. The U.S. clubs shall produce any responsive correspondence and/or emails between themselves, themselves and the NHL, or with any research or other professional about the study of concussions.”

Players names will not be shared in this process. The NHL reportedly estimates that producing such reams of data could cost about $13.5 million. Commissioner Gary Bettman was deposed for eight hours on Friday regarding the lawsuit, although his testimony is “under seal for now.”

For more, read the full report from Westhead at TSN.