If you polled the hockey world and asked people what they’re most tired of hearing about, it would be some combination of the words “concussion” and “out indefinitely.” The list of names keeps getting larger as Sidney Crosby, Jeff Skinner, Claude Giroux and Milan Michalek are sidelined with troubling head injuries. Michalek’s agent has had enough.
The Canadian Press reveals that Alan Walsh is demanding action from the NHL, which he said is in “the throes of a concussion epidemic.”
“With the economic incentive to make NHL hockey more exciting, the league worked diligently to increase the speed of the game,” Walsh said. “With increased speed necessarily comes increased collision. The results as it relates to player safety are self evident. It’s time for the NHL and teams to treat this issue as the crisis it is.”
Walsh calls for the league to look at the “root causes” of concussions, citing rules that opened up the game, finding safer helmets/mouth guards, head shots and fighting.
I’m with Walsh on improving safety equipment and wouldn’t be surprised to see staged fights gradually decline, but it’s hard to imagine the NHL going back to Dead Puck Era rules. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly more or less confirmed that suspicion by saying “The last thing anybody wants to do is overreact to a very short snapshot in time.” He’s also correct in saying that concussions are likely a fact of life in this sport – to some extent.
That being said, Daly isn’t 100 percent correct in saying that the league has done everything it can. The concussion procedures still have a way to go (“The Quiet Room” process seems like a joke to many, for example) and the NHL should stay on top of safety innovations.
The truth, then, is somewhere in between. The league still has room for improvement when it comes to preventing these injuries, but I don’t think that a drastic measure like bringing back obstruction is the answer.
What do you think, though? How far should the NHL go to curb this “epidemic?”