If you’ve been wondering just what Marc Staal has been up to since being shut down during training camp with post-concussion-like symptoms, the answer is nothing at all.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Staal has been held back from any and all physical activity for the past month and is headed back to Boston to see concussion specialist Dr. Robert Cantu, the man who has been treating him since this fall.
Given the secrecy that’s surrounded Staal’s condition, hearing that it is indeed a concussion and that he’s had to be held back completely from physical exertion is disturbing. After all, when Staal was crushed by a hit from his brother Eric Staal last season, Marc tried to tough it out and keep playing last season only to have to sit out games at a time. Toughing it out when you’ve got a concussion only leads to bigger problems. It’s no wonder that Marc has had these problems now.
While Marc continues to be out, you have to wonder just what was going on with the Rangers’ trainers and doctors to allow him to both keep playing games and then come back to training camp this year still dealing with issues. At least they stopped him before things could get even worse, but for now the Rangers have to live with the mess they helped along in the first place.
If there are any positives that can come from the recent string of hockey player deaths, it’s that their untimely ends might encourage the kind of changes that prevent similar outcomes for others.
Finding ways to help players who are coping with depression is currently on the forefront of many discussions since the perception is that both Rick Rypien and Wade Belak might have succumbed to such problems, but that’s far from the only issue that troubles players who essentially fight for a living. Concussions are also cited as a major issue for enforcers, with that issue being one of the main focuses after Derek Boogaard died in May.
Shortly after his death, Booggaard’s family decided to donate his brain to help researchers study the effects of concussions. The Associated Press reports that researchers (including well-known specialist Dr. Robert Cantu) have begun studying Boogaard’s brain at Boston University. Cantu’s team of researchers found that former enforcer Bob Probert had a degenerative brain disease after studying his brain after the beloved fighter’s death earlier this year.
The AP reports that Boogaard’s family would have to give permission for the results to be released. Here’s an interesting (and troubling) quote from a New York Times report that was quoted in this article about Probert’s brain.
Hockey’s enduring tolerance for and celebration of fighting will almost certainly be tested anew now that Probert, more pugilist than playmaker, has become the first contemporary hockey player to show C.T.E. after death. Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy had previously diagnosed the disease in a long-retired player, Reggie Fleming, a 1960s-era enforcer who played before the full adoption of helmets.
“How much is the hockey and how much is the fighting, we don’t really know,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, co-director of the Boston University center and a prominent neurosurgeon in the area of head trauma in sports. “We haven’t definitely established that the skills of hockey as a sport lead to a certain percentage of participants developing C.T.E. But it can happen to hockey players, and while they’re still relatively young.”
Boogaard was just 28 years old when he died in May, so that would probably ranks as being “relatively young.” We’ll keep an eye on the situation if the results are revealed because similar results for Boogaard might make the issue of fighting that much more controversial for the NHL.