On Head Injuries/Concussions
Though time lost and concussions from lateral/blind-side hits to the head are down, thanks in part to Rule 48, head injuries/concussions are still a significant issue in the NHL (as highlighted by the hit on Max Pacioretty by Zdeno Chara). Regardless of the intention and/or legality of the hit, Max is left with a concussion and fractured vertebrae from the check, one in which most of the impact was taken by the head. As such, NHL Comissioner, Gary Bettman, has introduced a 5-point plan to reduce concussions.

Do I think this 5-point plan will help? Hopefully. The majority of the plan is in relation to the NHL Protocol for Concussion Evaluation and Management. It tightens the protocols for the assessment of concussions, mandating that if a player shows concussions symptoms, they are to be immediately removed from a game. Also revised is that this assessment must take place in a quiet location and be administered by a team physician, rather than on the bench by a trainer. The only thing this new procedure really means is that a player now has to lie to/fool a physician as opposed to a trainer.

However, for all the cynicism we may be inclined to feel over this 5-point plan, it cannot be ignored that the oft discussed Rule 48 has reduced the number of concussions from blind-side/lateral hits from four last season, to just one this season. The message of “just don’t do it” was clearly understood by the league. This latest round of policy revisions only drives home the thesis. I hope the league will continue to take the matter of head injuries seriously and will put into practice this 5-point plan in an ernest manner.

On a related note, I find point three rather interesting:

The Board will be approached to elevate the standard in which a Club and its Coach can be held accountable if it has a number of ‘repeat offenders’ with regard to Supplementary Discipline.

To me, this suggests that the NHL is trying to clamp down on repeatedly offending players/teams. I will henceforth be referring to this point as the “Trevor Gillies Rule.”

Having had three concussions myself, one because of hockey, I am a huge proponent of any measures that can potentially reduce head injuries/concussions and protect the players when they do occur.

  1. farblueline posted this