Friday, December 16, 2011

Concussion Epidemic?

1) The way things are going you'd believe that there is a real epidemic of concussions going around the NHL this season. With the oft discussed Sidney Crosby concussion(s), to the most recent Chris Pronger (apparent) season ending concussion there seem to be a lot more high profile players going down with this very difficult to treat/often career threatening injury. In recent days/weeks we've seen stars Claude Giroux, Milan Michalek, Jeff Skinner, and Mike Richards join the aforementioned Crosby and Pronger to the list of star players going down with a concussion. However, according to the league the actual number of these type of injuries is no higher than last season. However don't believe for a second that the league won't have a knee-jerk response to these well-publicized injuries. There will be an inevitable call for 'changes' even if there really isn't one single factor involved in players having a concussion. Firstly NONE of the previous list of players injuries occurred as a result of a fight yet you can be sure the anti-fighting morons are going to bring that up as a way to curb concussions.

2) So despite the leagues statement that concussions are not suddenly increasing, we at Fauxrumors, who have been following the game for 40+ years, do NOT recall hearing much about concussions as a major problem until the past decade or so and really only the past 5 or so years. So what factors might be involved in this change?

  • Better Diagnosis: The neurological scans simply were not available 2 decades ago that are responsible in allowing teams to assess a players brain damage(if any). Techniques in assessment/diagnosis among medical professionals is light years ahead of where it was even a decade ago, so diagnoses are not missing concussions like in the past

  • Better Equipment: The new equipment certainly protects players much more effectively than in the past. Its light weight and hard as a rock. Players are more apt to feel free to make a hard shoulder hit, knowing they are well protected from harm, etc. Meanwhile helmets have changed little.

  • Faster game: Since the lockout the reduction in clutching and grabbing has sped up the game significantly. I ask any reader to watch a "classic" game from the 90's or before and you'll be struck by how much slower the game seems to be

3) So what will likely be proposed to curb this apparent epidemic? We predict some of the ideas will be in effect to try to slow down the game. If that happens we will have come full circle from the lockout when there was a call to make the game more exciting by reducing the boring (NJ Devils) trap and clutch/grab game. Some even point to the Brodeur rule (silly Trapezoid) as one factor allowing opponents an easier path to hit a defensman because goalies can't play the puck. The league has already tried to eliminate 'head shots'and in my opinion is succeeding, however most concussions (apart from Matt Cooke opponents) are not happening from direct dirty head shots, but from either inadvertent contact (Crosby) pucks to the head (Pronger) or just plane legal hard hits. It would be a shame if they league attempted to change the game now that its as exciting as its been.

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