That an injury to hockey’s number on attraction and best player has people up in arms about the concussion issue. This was an issue before New Year’s Day and will continue to be one for a long time, as long as the leagues that want to make a boat load of money look the other way. I should rephrase that, they are not looking the other way, rather than taking a stance based upon solid information and evidence leagues like the NHL think that putting a band-aid on a lacerated wrist is going to give them enough time to figure something out.
Two editorials about Sidney Crosby and his injury have made poignant arguments for a call to action in the sport of hockey. The Globe and Mail ran an editorial last week stating that the NHL did not penalize the players that hit Crosby, which according to them were blatant rule infractions.
Anyone who thinks this point is exaggerated is welcome to review the hit on the Internet (http://bit.ly/i9ir2X). It is painful to watch. Mr. Crosby struggled to stand, skated doubled over to the bench. Use of the NHL’s protocol should be automatic in such a case. A trainer is supposed to ask: What just happened? Who are we playing? What was the score of the last game? If the answers aren’t clear, the team doctor probes his concentration, memory, balance and co-ordination.
Also in that editorial the Globe and Mail noted that relying upon the athlete to tell you exactly what happened/is happening may be way too much to ask.
Mr. Crosby says he felt only a sore neck. But an athlete struck in the head is in the worst position to be making decisions. In a groundbreaking study led by Dr. Echlin in which independent physicians observed two youth hockey teams, and tested them at rinkside, only three of 21 players who suffered a concussion reported the problem themselves. “The athlete has been conditioned not to admit anything,” says Dr. Echlin, based in London, Ont. In that study, there were 21 concussions in 52 games observed by physicians – seven times the highest rate of concussions previously reported in hockey. The Crosby concussion explains why. It’s hard to find what you don’t look for.
In the most recent editorial written by Kelly McParland of the National Post, the stance was much more direct at the league;
The NHL being what it is, it’s biggest brains — so to speak — have spent the succeeding days arguing over which hit caused the concussion that has kept Crosby from playing. Rather than address the issue that shrieks at them, i.e. why head shots are still tolerated in hockey, they prefer to nitpick over the entrails of the inane compromise rules they brought in less than a year ago, during a similarly nonsensical effort to avoid having to make an actual decision. I would detail those rules for your benefit, but since no in the league understands them, including the officials tasked with enforcement, there seems little point. It was an effort to avoid a problem the league hasn’t got the spine to address, end of story.
McParland also encouraged Sidney Crosby to not only sit out the All-Star Game, to rest his concussion (also to make a statement), but to remain sitting out until all head shots are taken away from this sport.
Don’t bet on it. Crosby would do everyone a favour if he sits out until the league changes the rule and outlaws headshots. He’s the only player in the league with the stature to get it done. Players and the game itself would be immensely better off for it.