Head Shots and concussions... how big of an issue are they?

Headshots and Concussions... they're an issue that is constantly talked about around the league, every game you watch, it is mentioned at least once. Every big hit, someone complains it was a headshot.

The NHL Board of Governors met on Saturday to discuss this issue. Whether the penalty needs to be broadened, maybe it isn't strict enough? Or does something else completely different need to be done about this issue, such as an equipment change?

GM's are constantly getting asked about the issue, and you can clearly see who has a bigger problem with it. With Marc Savard out with his second concussion in under two years, Sidney Crosby going down on a "headshot", which I saw, and have watched 100 times and still believe it's entirely his fault that happened, and many other players around the league down with concussions or post-concussion symptoms, it's getting a lot more attention at the moment. Brian Burke said about the meeting (completely forget i'm a Leaf fan here...) that it's only getting a lot of attention because of Crosby, and that if a guy like Mike Brown were to have gotten one, no one would have even thought of mentioning it. He's 100% right, every time a player goes down, their GM screams to the media and wants to offending player out for games and games.

Don't get me wrong, concussions are a serious thing, I understand that. What I'm arguing exactly is that it's PART OF THE GAME. Sure you can clearly tell that there are some unnecessary hits going on out on the ice, but when an accidental one happens, everyone freaks.

I know first hand what concussions are like, how they happen, and what it's like after. I turned 16 about two weeks ago, and I couldn't play this season. In my past 3 seasons, i've had 3 concussions, and an uncountable amount of bumps to the head that give symptoms. It was so bad, that the phrase of just poking someone in the chin, was true. Fell, bumped my shoulder off the ice... and that was my season, 3 practices. I got another one a few months ago from running into a door, was out of school for 3 weeks, and am still getting symptoms, and just getting back on the ice. So I know what these players go through, but obviously on a smaller scale, and i'm only playing up to A hockey.

Now i'm nowhere near the size of these NHL players... 6'0'', 220. But I think the real issue involving these concussion problems is the players history. I can tell you right now, that no player nowadays goes through his whole minor hockey career not having a slight concussion, none of them. They don't say anything, because they know it's a big deal. I knocked myself unconscious, somehow skated back to the bench, laid there for 10 minutes, my coach sent me back out... Coaches, parents, and players are not realizing what is going on.

Look at Eric Lindros. Seven career concussions... do you think that's all he's had? Definitely not. When you get your first concussion, it is either considered "minor" or "major", major obviously having more severe symptoms. After that, they're all considered complex. Every time you get another concussion, it takes a smaller bump to get worse symptoms. So there is clear that a lot of players have a history.

What i'm trying to say is, I think the "prevention" needs to be laid off in the NHL a bit, and more action needs to be taken in minor hockey.

Thanks, Daniel.

7 Comments

George Prax's picture

I definitely think that more action needs to be taken to prevent these things at the amateur hockey levels, but at the same time, that doesn't mean that we should lay off the NHL. Guys like Crosby, even if their careers are ended early, won't have a problem earning a living after hockey. But there are a lot of players, exactly like Mike Brown, who may not be able to survive if they have their careers ended at say 30. Just look at the NFL, and the trouble literally hundred of players are having post-career. Does this mean the NHL needs to take "drastic" action to limit hitting and these types of injuries? Not necessarily, but something definitely has to be done. Just because something is "part of the game" doesn't make it right. The potential of getting cut by a skate could also be considered "part of the game", but I'm sure players don't shrug it off. They come back with protective gear, as they do when they take pucks to the face or the feet and break bones.

The NHL, as employers, as responsible for the players and the injuries they receive, and head hits are completely avoidable. Will putting in measures to reduce such hits take out some of the physicality in the game? Maybe. But not in a bad way. They're just as culpable and responsible as anyone else when it comes to this stuff.

Daniel_W's picture

I hate soccer... I really really hate soccer. Reducing the physicality of the game, will give me the feeling soccer gives me. Maybe it's because i'm that type of player that plays the game physically? I don't know. But I really think it's more of a matter of assessing a players history. Believe me, concussions are NOT avoidable in a contact sport, it is impossible to completely avoid them. I promise you right now, the NHL will never prevent concussions.

George Prax's picture
Daniel_W wrote:

I hate soccer... I really really hate soccer. Reducing the physicality of the game, will give me the feeling soccer gives me. Maybe it's because i'm that type of player that plays the game physically? I don't know. But I really think it's more of a matter of assessing a players history. Believe me, concussions are NOT avoidable in a contact sport, it is impossible to completely avoid them. I promise you right now, the NHL will never prevent concussions.

protecting players won't necessarily make the game turn into soccer. Besides, if you want to compare hockey to soccer, look at the diving that runs rampant in both sports.

Alicia Sprenkle's picture

Concussions are such a touchy subject. A lot of concussions are caused by incidents that cannot be prevented. But there are others that have a lot to do with a lack of respect. I completely agree with Brian Burke and commend him for that statement. But as wrong as it might be or might sound, maybe the fact that someone like Crosby sustained a concussion could help really show how serious concussions are and why something has to be done. We can't change the game or slow it down. But I'm sure equipment can be changed. Look at what Messier has been talking about with helmets. And we are always hearing about how dangerous shoulder pads can be when a guy follows through with his check and accidentally hits a guys in the head as a result of the finish. As easy as it is to say that concussions are going to be a part of the game, I'd love to see what some experts can come up with.

Daniel_W's picture
Alicia Sprenkle wrote:

Concussions are such a touchy subject. A lot of concussions are caused by incidents that cannot be prevented. But there are others that have a lot to do with a lack of respect. I completely agree with Brian Burke and commend him for that statement. But as wrong as it might be or might sound, maybe the fact that someone like Crosby sustained a concussion could help really show how serious concussions are and why something has to be done. We can't change the game or slow it down. But I'm sure equipment can be changed. Look at what Messier has been talking about with helmets. And we are always hearing about how dangerous shoulder pads can be when a guy follows through with his check and accidentally hits a guys in the head as a result of the finish. As easy as it is to say that concussions are going to be a part of the game, I'd love to see what some experts can come up with.

I can also vouch for the people who say "concussion proof helmets" are falsely advertised. I have the Bauer 9900 "concussion proof helmet". When I was sold it, for $249.00, I was told "if you get a concussion with this thing, full refund." I've 3 concussions with it. If Bauer can't make a concussion proof helmet, neither can Mark Messier.

With the shoulder pads, it's a lose lose situation. What do you go for? Potential decrease in concussions caused by a hit? Or an almost garunteed increase in broken shoulders, broken collarbones, neck issues...

Elbow pads have been changed, helmets have been changed, shoulder pads have had their fair share of changes... you can't continue to keep hockey a fast-paced, physical game where the players are incredibly strong, and change the equipment anymore.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Bottom line is keep your head up and you won't get drilled. Don't forget that the player puts himself in a position to get his bell rung most of the time. It's part of the game.

George Prax's picture
Kyle Andrew Busch wrote:

Bottom line is keep your head up and you won't get drilled. Don't forget that the player puts himself in a position to get his bell rung most of the time. It's part of the game.

Ya, so is getting hit int he face with pucks, but players still wear helmets and visors.