This post is part of a series looking at the issue and impact of concussions in the NHL. ProHockeyTalk and Comcast SportsNet are featuring pieces today as a lead-in to tonight’s special edition of NHL Live on Versus (6:30 p.m. EST.)
Billy Daly and other NHL executives aren’t wrong when they say that concussions are probably an inevitable part of the current game. That being said, there’s certainly room for improvement when it comes to identifying and preventing concussions. Improving mouthguards and softening equipment such as shoulder pads could help, but here’s a quick look at some of the most intriguing innovations in hockey helmets.
“The Messier Project”
Mark Messier was one of the fiercest leaders in NHL history, but one of his post-career focuses is promoting a line of “concussion-reducing” helmets. You can see an older (and admittedly goofy-looking) version of the design in this post’s main image, but Messier told The New York Times that there are some more “traditional” looking options. (Then again, let’s hope that players care more about their health than how cool their helmets look …)
The showstopper is the foam on the inside, which out-performs the standard stuff that adorns current helmets, at least according to Cascade Sports’ research.
(Image via Cascade Sports’ gallery.)
Does the foam/helmet design really make a difference? Such a claim might need some more research, but hopefully an independent party is either looking into it or will study these innovations. Football helmets have seen similar re-designs that sacrifice a little in aesthetics for a jump in protection, so it would be great to see hockey follow suit.
Keith Primeau’s helmet lights
While Messier’s line focuses on diffuses the impact of a concussive blow, the other two noteworthy helmets gravitate toward identification. The Canadian Press caught up with Keith Primeau, who is promoting “Impact Indicators.” The process is simple: if a potential concussion occurs, a light will go from green to red.
I can just imagine the “Rudolph the Concussed Reindeer” jokes now, which is unfortunate because the idea sounds promising if the technology is sound.
A bomb expert’s take
An Ottawa entrepreneur/former bomb disposal officer named Danny Crossman is throwing his name in the hat with Impakt Protective’s “Shockbox,” which has similar aims* as the “Impact Indicator.” The device is capable of measuring the impact of a hit and then immediately sending the data to a smartphone, according to Andrew Duffy of Postmedia News.
Obviously there’s a commercial aspect to their endeavors, but it’s still fantastic to see Messier and Primeau putting their name recognition behind a key aspect of concussion prevention: improving equipment. Messier probably said it best to The New York Times.
“Generally in our sport we’ve spent all of our money on technology for improving sticks and skates,” Messier said. “Unfortunately none of the money has been spent on headgear, which is probably our most important equipment.”
* – Yes, I’m also a little disappointed that a bomb expert isn’t coming up with some crazy Kevlar-plated helmet, too.