Hockey’s Wandering Gaze

We would like to welcome our newest writer, coming over from and hailing from the North, eh!  The views from him coming from a person that follows non-traditional ‘American’ sports will be a huge asset.  Without further delay…

I guess I should start with a very brief intro.  In the summer of 2003 I was cycling, flew off my bike and hit a tree with my head.  My helmet did its job – or else I wouldn’t be here – nonetheless, I ended up in a coma for two weeks and had a severe traumatic brain injury.  I like to think that my experience allows me a unique perspective on what has become a central issue in sports – concussion and brain injury.

Sports have always been a big part of my life (not that I was star, but I was ok) and I’ve tried many.  That said, I am from – and still live – in Canada and have never played a game of hockey.  In fact, I think the last time I skated was probably 19 years ago.  Winter has never been my season (just as well, since my balance problems persisting from my brain injury certainly limit my participation in basically every winter sport).  However, I used to really like picking off friends with snowballs (I still like to, but my range is more restricted, so it’s easier for them to avoid a hit).

But I digress…

When Americans parody Canada’s obsession with hockey, they’re probably under-selling it.  Hockey means so much to this country and I am impressed by the concern over concussions, the intensity with which the concussion issue is covered and the recognition of its importance seemingly across the country.  It was merely a few weeks ago that hockey’s attention was directed solely at Sidney Crosby – when will he return?  What will this mean for the Penguins chances in the playoffs?  However, I scarcely heard mention that it would affect the rest of his career.

Then the Islanders and Penguins brawled it out one Friday night and the attention didn’t even need to leave Crosby’s team before their star player’s concussion suddenly became less a seminal moment in the 2010-2011 NHL season than an easy and convenient explanation for owner Mario Lemieux’s tirade against NHL thuggery.

Advertising itself to a wider audience has never been the NHL’s strong suit and keeping concussions front and centre (that’s the Canadian spelling) won’t help matters, but ephemeral changes of focus shouldn’t detract from the most important and pervasive issue facing the NHL today.

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