Brooks Laich is just about done with hearing about concussions, the quiet room, and head injuries in general.
After seeing his teammate Jay Beagle get knocked out by Penguins tough guy Arron Asham, Laich was asked about whether he’s concerned with the possibility that Beagle might have a concussion and needs to sit a few out.
Laich, like Asham, didn’t pull any punches as he told CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley.
“I really don’t care about that awareness crap,” Laich said. “To be honest, I’m sick of hearing all this talk about concussions and about the quiet room.
“This is what we love to do. Guys love to play, they love to compete, they want to be on the ice. How do you take that away from someone? We accept that there’s going to be dangers when we play this game. We know that every time we get dressed.
“I don’t know, sometimes it just feels like we’re being babysat a little too much. We’re grown men and we should have a say in what we want to do.”
That’s as old school of a take on concussions as you’re going to find. Old school in the way that it’s outdated and wrong. This is the sort of take that would make a guy like Don Cherry blush.
There’s no doubt that some players are frustrated with how things are handled, but given that this is their livelihood and getting hurt for extended periods of time means not being able to do what they love anymore, you’d think there would be a bit more concern for their fellow man and for themselves just the same.
For guys like Laich, apparently not.
Earlier this week, the General Managers came up with a new protocol to deal with concussions designed to protect players’ safety. On Friday night, the NHL put it into practice as Coyotes’ forward Vern Fiddler was evaluated after being the recipient a hit-from-behind by Vancouver’s Alex Burrows midway through the 3rd period. Burrows received a 5-minute major for boarding and game misconduct for the play—thankfully Fiddler just missed part of the game as he went awkwardly into the boards.
The play had consequences on the scoreboard as well. The Coyotes scored twice on the ensuing 5-minute major power play and eventually won 3-1.
In the past, Fiddler probably would have been evaluated on the bench by one of the trainers before heading back onto the ice for his next shift. But with the GMs new system put into place, the decision to immediately return to the game is taken out of the player’s hands. As of Wednesday, here’s how these situations are now to be handled:
“The NHL Protocol for Concussion Evaluation and Management has been revised in three areas: 1) Mandatory removal from play if a player reports any listed symptoms or shows any listed signs (loss of consciousness … Motor incoordination/balance problems … Slow to get up following a hit to the head … blank or vacant look … Disorientation (unsure where he is) … Clutching the head after a hit … Visible facial injury in combination with any of the above). 2) Examination by the team physician (as opposed to the athletic trainer) in a quiet place free from distraction. 3) Team physician is to use ‘an acute evaluation tool’ such as the NHL SCAT 2 [SCAT stands for Sports Concussion Assessment Tool] as opposed to a quick rinkside assessment.”
On Friday night, Fiddler was examined for approximately 10 minutes before he was able to rejoin his team. Thankfully, everything checked out when he was evaluated by the physicians at Rogers Place in Vancouver. Fiddler explained the process after the game.
“I came in the dressing room and that’s the protocol now and that’s what the trainer said when I got hit. You like for it to be quiet and not a bunch of action around.”
“They asked me a bunch of questions, just a typical neuro-psyche test and I just did what I was asked,” Fiddler said. “He just asks you a few questions about the game, what day it is.”
A player being forced to be evaluated by an actual doctor (not a trainer) in a quiet room is a huge deviation from past procedure. We used to hear how a guy just “had his bell rung” or how a hit “cleared out the cobwebs” while a trainer would give a player the once over on the bench. Sometimes adrenaline would get the best of players. Sometimes testosterone would get in the way. But both mistakes can be minimized when taken away from the action and objective tests can be performed. It’s a great step forward and as tonight showed, in practice it has the potential to give both players and organizations a little piece of mind when one of their own is hit.
There’s been plenty of discussion regarding Sidney Crosby’s concussion symptoms and the two hits (one by David Steckel, one by Victor Hedman) believed to cause those problems, but little if none of that came from Crosby himself.
On the heels of Dan Bylsma denying knowledge of playing Crosby despite concussion symptoms, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ team captain and NHL points leader addressed the media this afternoon.
He said that this is the first time he’s ever had to deal with a concussion and discussed some of the symptoms, saying he just “felt off” during the team’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Crosby also noted that he “didn’t like” the hits delivered by Hedman and Steckel, although he said he wasn’t sure if the league should have disciplined Steckel for the hit. (He didn’t elaborate much on the Hedman check other than saying that it was a hit to the head.)
Here is video of Crosby’s comments and text-based answers can be found if you wade through some of the other information in this report on the Penguins’ Web site.