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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Does the NHL Have a Concussion Problem?

The NHL's concussion policy is as unclear as Sidney 
Crosby's head.
Sidney Crosby is not only the NHL's best player, he's also the league's most marketable player.

So when the star of the league goes down with a concussion and is about to miss his fifth consecutive game it starts to bring up the question:  Does the NHL have a concussion problem?  Sidney Crosby is wondering...

"I didn't like them," Crosby said of the hits, according to Yahoo. "You talk about head shots and dealing with them, and that's been something that's been a pretty big point of interest from everybody -- GMs and players."

The league can't afford to have guys like Crosby missing action because of head injuries suffered from vicious hits that players can not do anything to avoid.

Now that "Sid the Kid" is down with a head injury, will Gary Bettman actually follow through with a promise made?

Prior to start of this season, and likely in response to the brutal hit Boston Bruins center Marc Savard took last season, the NHL instituted a new rule that gave referees the authority to assign major penalties to players who are deemed to have purposely hit somebody in the head. 

It hasn't worked. 

Shop New MLB Merchandise at FansEdgeCrosby is just one of a handful of players this year that have missed time due to head injuries. 

Thornton was suspended and the play received plenty of league-wide scrutiny.  Many felt the suspension of two games was too short.  Others felt there shouldn't be a suspension at all.

But when these injuries occur, what else is the NHL to do? 

Crosby is wondering as well.

"There's no way to protect yourself. Those are things that hopefully they pay more attention to. It's easy saying that, being in this situation, but those are two hits, looking back, that I can't say I should have done something different or had my head down. I wouldn't change anything."

Can the NHL make the playing surface bigger, making it more difficult for some of these "shoulder-hits" to occur?

Can the league improve the equipment, possibly making the helmets players wear better and able to protect the heads of players more effectively? 

Or is there nothing that the NHL can do and this is just a case of society coming down on the NHL and NFL for injuries that science has just recently uncovered?  Are fans just worried about something that has always existed and has just recently been brought to their attention? 

Has the NHL always had a concussion problem and now we finally know it?

The NFL can overcome such negative publicity.  It is widely popular among everybody in America and even a players strike will likely not reduce the league's success. 

The NHL on the other hand, can not handle any negative publicity as the league continue to try and find goodwill among fans and position itself in a positive light in American pop culture. 

What the NHL should do about these head injuries is as unclear as Sidney Crosby's head.

But there is one thing for certain.  The league needs Crosby back on the ice.

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