Hockey fans know violence. Big hits, fights, and hard shots are a part of the game, and many times the reason that fans love it. With the information that is now known about concussions and how they affect the brain, many fans have questioned if the sport of hockey has become too violent.Today, many SBNation hockey blogs are posting various opinions on concussions in the NHL. Whether you think the NHL should crack down on hits to the head, that players are responsible for their own safety, injury risk is part of the game, fights should be banned, or anything in-between, there will be something for you today. There will also be feature stories on players that have had major concussion issues. Make sure to visit all of the sites taking part, and put your critical thinking caps on. Some sites will be posting multiple articles throughout the day (Hockey Wilderness has 6 alone!), so make sure you stop back throughout the day.-Eminemilie (HW)
Other Sites Participating in the discussion:
Hockey Wilderness (Minnesota Wild)- www.hockeywilderness.com
Mile High Hockey (Colorado Avalanche)- www.milehighhockey.com
Stanley Cup of Chowder (Boston Bruins)- www.stanleycupofchowder.com
Anaheim Calling (Anaheim Ducks)- www.anaheimcalling.com
Pensburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins)- www.pensburgh.com
Winging it in Motown (Detroit Red Wings)- www.wingingitinmotown.com
Nucks Misconduct (Vancouver Canucks)- www.nucksmisconduct.com
Second City Hockey (Chicago Blackhawks)- www.secondcityhockey.com
On the Forecheck (Nashville Predators)- www.ontheforecheck.com
Habs Eyes on the Prize (Montreal Canadians)- www.habseyesontheprize.com
Right now the Blackhawks are healthy and everyone in the NHL knows it or at least should be able to tell from their point total that they are firing on all cylinders. Last year Blackhawks lost for some part of the season on offense, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa to concussion issues and Steve Montador on defense. Losing Hossa probably cost the Hawks their season, getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs against the Coyotes, more on that later, but some thanks should probably be given to the lockout for giving enough time for Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews enough time to fully recover from concussions they suffered last year.
Now, the Hawks are still missing Montador, who is still recovering from concussion like symptoms and hasn’t played a game since last March and failed concussion tests before the season in January.
Honestly, his career might be over. I hope it isn’t but the Hawks have filled his spot with Brookbank and Rozsival so even if he does come back he may not have a spot on the team.
What’s really scary with all three cases is how long it takes to truly recover from concussions. Hossa’s concussion was from a single hit, from cough cough scum bag cough cough, Raffi Torres. If you haven’t seen the hit you either aren’t a hockey fan or you’ve been living under a rock for the past year. But here it is. It took Hossa over 7 months to recover from this one hit. Luckily, it seems like all effects are gone and he has been on a tear this year so far.
Jonathan Toews claims he is unsure which hit caused him a concussion last year and it could have been any number of hits he took, some might claim that he also was showing some symptoms from when he crashed his Mercedes into a Chicago train support beam.
And Steve Montador like stated before, still hasn’t recovered.
Toews, like Marian Hossa did not play anywhere during the lockout because of concussion issues, but rather stayed in Chicago working out, Toews was also involved in the labor negotiations. But those two benefited probably more than anyone else (besides the owners) from the lockout, being able to take the necessary time off from the game and let their bodies reset.
Hossa’s concussion is the obvious choice for further discussion because of how it happened and the large suspension handed down from Brendan Shanahan because of it.
I want to look at the true cause of these concussions. The NHL has legislated against illegal hits and Brendan Shanahan has handed out more than a few suspensions for dirty hits to the head, but in my humble opinion, it isn’t going to amount to anything until an active decision is made on the player’s part to change their attitude and adjust their play. The players are the ones who step out on to the ice every night; they are the ones who have to go through months of rehabilitation and scary moments where they think they might never be the same again. However, they are also the ones who are causing the concussions. The NHL isn’t concussing the players. The rules aren’t concussing the players. It’s the same guys who have teammates laying at home in the dark that are causing other players to go through the same thing.
Players need to make a conscious effort to improve the quality of their own life by setting a commonly recognized standard of play for each other. It’s not enough for players on opposing teams to call out when someone breaks this “code”. Players can go to their teammates and may even have a more effective impact on that person than a suspension or fine might. They need to hear it from their peers that its not right. I’m not advocating inter-team fighting but there are other effective ways of communication, even in hockey, that don’t involve fists.
A large reason why I love hockey is because of the physical play but it’s the mix of mental and physical that make it exciting. Seeing two equally matched players battle for a puck and watching how one player can effectively out-think and out-muscle the other player is what’s exciting.
Jonathan Toews is a perfect example of this type of player, yeah yeah, of course I picked him as my model player, but hear me out. Toews is not going to put anyone in the hospital, but he will play physical and use his body to effectively take the puck away from his opponents. This was displayed the other night in a game against the Sharks. It was in the 2nd period to put the Blackhawks in the lead, Toews took the puck into the zone, dropped it to Patrick Kane while taking the defender with him towards the net, he stops as Kane fires a shot which gets blocked by Niemi then corralled by defenseman Douglas Murray. Most times this play would be over and San Jose would be off on towards their offensive zone. But Toews stayed with Murray made a smart play to lift his stick and pick his pocket, as he turns he can fire a quick shot at Niemi but instead he sees Kane on his side circling back, fires a pass over and Kane buries is past an out of position Niemi.
That’s the hockey I want to watch. And that’s the future of the NHL, a hybrid of physical and mental. The players need to make sure to keep the mental, because, at the end of the day it’s their choice and their lives.