Alex Burrows, Jimmy Howard

Alex Burrows has recovered from a concussion

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The Vancouver Canucks got a scare earlier this month when Alex Burrows suffered a concussion while playing for Team Canada in the 2012 IIHF World Championships. Although the 2012-13 campaign is still months away, it’s hard to put a timetable on a concussion.

Fortunately, the worst case scenario didn’t play out.

“Every day has been really good for him since the initial play,” Canadian coach Brent Sutter said. “Since then he’s been good.”

Burrows did not end up reporting any post-concussion symptoms and he’s fine to resume playing for Team Canada in the tournament.

This is the first time that Burrows has ever played for Team Canada on the international stage. He went undrafted and had to work his way up from the ECHL.

Burrows’ four-year/$8 million contract runs through the 2012-13 campaign. After that, he’ll probably get a sizable raise.

Marc Staal’s concussion comeback keeps getting better

Anton Stralman, Marc Staal
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It’s crazy to think of how wild Marc Staal’s season has been. He missed the first half of the season dealing with concussion-like symptoms stemming from a hit from his brother Eric Staal last season. He made his season debut on the big stage of the Winter Classic in Philadelphia and last night he scored the game-winning goal for the Rangers in Game 5.

As ESPN-New York’s Katie Strang hears it from Staal, the long road to recovery has been a fulfilling one for him.

“I’m certainly feeling better and better,” Staal said of his progress since making his long-awaited season debut in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2. “As the year has gone on, I’ve felt better and better. Playoffs are a lot of fun and I’m having fun with it.” 

Staal’s minutes have been huge in the postseason. He’s averaging 25:20 in ice time, good for third on the team behind Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. With two goals and three assists in the playoffs, he’s adding a little scoring punch to his defensive prowess as well. With how low scoring the Rangers are, getting five points from a blue liner makes for a great bonus.

Starting your season at the Winter Classic makes for a late beginning, but Staal would love to close the year out lifting the Stanley Cup. If he keeps playing like this, it might just happen.

Burrows suffers possible concussion in World Hockey Championships

Alex Burrows
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Canucks forward Alex Burrows was forced to leave today’s World Hockey Championships game in Helsinki after colliding with a Slovak player during Canada’s 3-2 victory.

According to CP’s Chris Johnston, Burrows “looked woozy leaving the ice,” raising concerns he may have suffered a concussion.

Team Canada coach Brent Sutter said Burrows is “day to day” and will be re-evaluated tomorrow.

Incidentally, Burrows might’ve been the most excited of all the Team Canada invites. Undrafted out of junior, he’s risen all the way from the ECHL to representing his country on the international stage.

“To be here now, seven seasons into my NHL career and representing Canada, I’ve come a long way and I’m proud of it,” Burrows told the Vancouver Sun recently.

“There are so many good players who have played for our country. For me to get a chance to play, I didn’t really expect this.

“Ever since I was a kid, I always remember watching the world juniors and watching Team Canada. I remember Mario Lemieux scoring on that 3-on-1 [at the Canada Cup] in 1987. Even at the Olympics in Vancouver, I think I was the loudest guy in the building cheering for the team. It means a lot to be part of it – to try to win a gold medal.”

It’s unfortunate that Burrows is best known around the league as the guy who bit Patrice Bergeron, because even though he’s reaping what he sowed as an unabashed agitator, it takes away from a pretty great underdog story.

Renowned concussion doctor: “Let’s get head shots out of hockey”

Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens
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At a panel discussion Thursday night at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, concussion and brain injury expert Dr. Charles Tator made a definitive statement about head shots in the game of hockey:

Eliminate them entirely.

“We have no treatment for concussions,” Tator explained. “We have no treatment for the accumulative concussion, we have no treatment for the repetitive concussion, and it is the repetitive concussion that causes brain damage.

“Let’s get head shots out of hockey.”

Former Calgary Flames GM Craig Button also spoke about head shots, and believes the issue needs to be addressed.

“I don’t think it’s about fighting, it’s about blows to the head,” Button explained. “They should take away all contact to the head. Zero tolerance.”

The statements come at a time when another professional sports league, the NFL, is under siege for the treatment and handling of brain-related injury. According to a report, there are over 1,000 ex-NFL players currently suing the league, claiming not enough was done to inform players about the dangers of concussions in the past, and not enough is done to take care of them today.

In light of Tator’s comments — especially the admittance there’s “no treatment for concussions” — you can expect the issue of head shots in hockey to carry on throughout the summer, especially when it comes to negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement.

The latest gizmo in concussion treatment: Whole-body gyroscopes

Guillaume Latendresse
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Treating a concussion is a bit of mystery in the medical science world. For Minnesota Wild forward Guillaume Latendresse, his concussion problems in his career have forced him to look for new ways to treat them. Under the care of Dr. Ted Carrick, he told the panel on L’Antichambre on RDS about how a human-sized gyroscope is helping him overcome his troubles.

Thanks to J.S. Landry at SBN’s Hockey Wilderness, he translated Latendresse’s appearance to give us the science-fiction like details of his concussion treatment.

“That’s what impressed me the most and I wanted to talk about it tonight because it’s not just made to treat concussions, that’s the interesting thing about it. I saw a little 4 year-old girl there, she had never been able to walk in her life and after two days, she was able to walk! (Surprised reactions across the panel) Of course, she wasn’t walking perfectly, but she was walking. There was a blind girl, two days later, she saw colors for the first time and she was like…” (mesmerized expression)

Hang on now, this sounds a bit far-fetched but Latendresse says the effects it’s had on him have been profound. After a week of treatment he said he felt better than he had in months.

There is a catch though as Latendresse says the treatment has its shortcomings in that only certain doctors can make use of it and it’s not a widely available treatment. There’s a bit more to check out at that Hockey Wilderness link, but that should be enough to pique your curiosity.

If this isn’t as snake-oily as it appears to be and getting spun around in a gyroscope can help those dealing with serious concussion issues, you’d have to think Dr. Carrick will have a strong uptick in new patients.