Tag: concussion debate

Krys Barch

Krys Barch says players can deal with concussions because they’re not soldiers fighting war


Florida Panthers tough guy Krys Barch may not be someone you know very well, but when it comes to one of the league’s hot-button topics he’s making sure he’s being heard.

With the NHL GMs meeting in Florida to discuss player safety, Barch let his thoughts be known about what he thinks about the league potentially tweaking the rules to help protect the players better from concussions. Rather than looking at things just in the context of the NHL, Barch gave Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel more of a world view on matters.

“I don’t know why you try to correct what’s working. The hits are always part of the game,” Barch said. “I had a twitter account a few years ago and you look at guys going over to Iraq and Afghanistan and they’re doing it for their country and they’re not getting compensated near as much as we are so why do we have to take less risks than them? That’s part of the sport. We get paid huge money to do it and most of the time you get paid big money it comes with a lot of risks involved and we’re compensated.

“We know that risk when we step on the ice so you go along with it, so everybody just shut up! These guys are going overseas spending nine months away from their wives and kids and risk their lives and do it for X amount of dollars, and we’re going to sit here and cry because one guy’s making $5 million and he’s out with a concussion then shame on us,” Barch said. “Shame on us, that’s what I think.”

Well when you put it that way, it’s hard to not say Barch is right. Of course, you could say that any man or woman that enlists in the Armed Forces takes the same risks on themselves and knows full well what they’re getting into and why they’re doing it.

The jobs are totally different and Barch’s point is solid on the grand scale. For the job he’s doing playing hockey, however, not wanting the players to be better protected when the ability to do that is there comes off poorly.

Gary Bettman’s new concussion protocols make NHL GMs upset

Gary Bettman

Despite the fact that the changes were announced during last week’s GM meetings, Gary Bettman apparently didn’t poll the league’s 30 general managers regarding changes to concussion diagnosis and protocol, according to Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun.

From the sound of things, some GMs are pretty upset with the changes Bettman enacted regarding how teams diagnose concussions. They have an especially big problem with the provision that forces a player who might have been concussed to meet with a doctor instead of a trainer during a 15-minute process.

A few general managers anonymously spoke with Francis about their issues with the changes Bettman made. They were upset by the fact that the league’s commissioner didn’t clear the changes with them and pointed to “the unreasonableness” of the new protocol.

“I have no problem treating these things cautiously but this is an overreaction, a knee-jerk reaction,” said the GM, insisting at least a third of the GMs agree with him and will make their feelings known to the league.

“We weren’t allowed to vote or discuss it. I was in the bar with about 10 other guys afterwards and they were all grumbling about it. I’m not opposed to beefing up the protocol but we know it doesn’t take 15 minutes and that’s my biggest concern. There’s a right way and a wrong way. This is what doctors told the league is best to do but we’re the ones to have to put the thing in practice and it doesn’t make sense.”

With an eye on identifying and managing the increasing number of concussions the NHL has seen this year, Bettman instituted the directive at last week’s GM meetings as part of a five-point plan to improve player safety. As part of the concussion protocol, the NHL commissioner took the power away from trainers who have typically tended to banged up players and put it squarely in the hands of the game’s host physician. Some have worried host doctors could either take their time getting down to see a visiting player or err too much on the side of caution to deprive a visiting team its star player.

“We don’t worry about a doctor’s ethical stance — they have way too much integrity for that,” said the GM, who requested anonymity for obvious reasons.

“I’m worried about how much time it takes. Maybe a doctor is dealing with another player at the time. Why 15 minutes and why is it out of the trainer’s hands? What about a guy like (Milan) Lucic who gets drilled and is always slow to get up but is never hurt? Does he sit for 15? We have to sit down and talk about it with the league and the doctors in the room at the draft this June.”

Considering the fact that a substantial chunk of the league’s teams at least have a shot at earning a playoff spot despite the fact that there’s less than a month left in this season, it’s clear that every game counts. That means that pulling a player out of a game prematurely could impact teams who need every win and every point they can get.

Francis reveals that some teams are so concerned with the timeliness and availability of opposing teams’ doctors that they might try to get their own team doctors to accompany clubs on road trips. Such a measure could be costly and also complicated because there might be markets where an out-of-state doctor might not be licensed to practice medicine, Francis explains.

In other words, there might be some considerable growing pains from these changes. It’s surprising that Bettman would make a choice that is reportedly so unpopular among GMs, since that seems like the one group of people the controversial commish manages to please through thick and thin.

That being said, in a climate where concussion consciousness is at a new height, maybe it’s better to overreact rather than ignoring a growing problem. Personally, I prefer an overreaction to an oblivious shrug.

Did Mikhail Grabovski suffer a concussion last night? Concussion debate rages on


Last night, Mikhail Grabovski was a hero to the Maple Leafs scoring twice including the game-winner with just over a minute to play, a goal good enough to be our goal of the night. Grabovski, however, was nearly put out of the game thanks to two wicked hits from Zdeno Chara, the last of which left him visibly dazed.

While Grabovski’s efforts were indeed heroic in leading the Leafs to victory, with concussions being the hot button topic of the day, many are wondering still a day later how in the world he was able to get back into the game and then still contribute. It’s not as if Chara is just a regular sized guy hitting you.

After the game, Grabovski told Jonas Siegel afterwards about how he felt and, well, it came off as amusing, heroic, and eyebrow-raising all at once.

“I feel bruise in my eyes,” he smiled afterwards, “but like I tell it before it give me more motivation to play harder.”

A bruise in my eyes? Well I suppose so, but that doesn’t sound healthy at all that’s for sure and after getting your head smashed into the boards, you have to worry about a head injury, especially a concussion.

Leafs GM Brian Burke made it clear today that all is well with Grabovski as he told James Mirtle of the Globe & Mail.

Leafs general manager Brian Burke said today that Grabovski did not suffer a concussion during the game.

“He would not have been allowed to return to play had he exhibited any symptoms of concussion,” Burke said via e-mail.

Burke added that Grabovski would not need to see a specialist today given a concussion had already been ruled out.

As we’ve seen in the past with some players, the concussion doesn’t always show up immediately. You could argue that that’s what happened with Sidney Crosby after being hit by David Steckel in the Winter Classic and it took taking another blow in his next game to put him out indefinitely.

Chris FitzGerald of The National Post in Canada got the take from a former NHLer that saw his career end too soon because of concussions in former Flyers standout Keith Primeau. Primeau is a major advocate of changing how things are done so players can be spared leaving the game early the way he was forced to. Playing through a possible concussion, Primeau says, should not be an option.

He said a great deal of the diagnostic procedure still relies on self-reporting from the athlete — an athlete who is often not eager to leave the field of play.

“And that’s where, subjectively, it has to change,” Primeau said. “There needs to be a much more objective approach.”

As Darren Dreger notes in his Dreger Report today, if certain changes to how the NHL handles in-game situations like this are made, situations like last night’s potentially risky heroics by Grabovski might soon become a thing of the past.

For Grabovski, or any other player who visibly displays similar symptoms next season, it could be game over.

The NHL’s Concussion Working Group met during All-Star Weekend in Raleigh and discussed developing criteria for mandatory dressing room evaluation prior to a player being able to return.

While everyone begins learning more about what goes into treating a concussion and whether or not a player has actually suffered an injury like this, the more people are going to debate this matter. Keeping the player’s health in mind is the biggest concern, but if a team’s ability to win a game is hindered by not having a definitive answer as to what’s wrong, you know that this debate will rage on even harder.