Monday, March 14, 2011

NHL Resurges With New Plan On Concussion Plans

After having been pressured by a multitude of outside sources, the NHL today released a plan that intends to fix the very dangerous rising trend of concussions and adhere to clarity of player safety.

Even with the best of intentions, the collective NHL general managers are fighting against the rising tide of cynicism among fans and media. The League representatives at their best have trotted in front of any microphone and promised reprisals, but seemingly more and more players got hurt. I can feel the palpable negativity surrounding this latest plan.

Commissioner Gary Bettman again posed a rather eloquent, but still resembled rhetorical speak when he was quoted with this thought.
"There's no one single thing causing concussions," said Bettman. "There is no magic bullet to deal with this. I know that it's an emotional, intense subject, particularly for our fans. We get it. But dealing with this issue is not something you can do whimsically or emotionally."
Begging for patience when there is very little to be had among the fans, players, and media is but only ringing hollow in their ears. And just who did Commissioner Bettman try to appeal to here with that quote? Everyone?

Then the other stages of the meeting in Boca Raton, FL, revealed the line of thinking that the NHL top brass qualifies and quantified as the problem areas.
Of the approximately 80 concussions suffered by players in 2010-11, the NHL found that 44 per cent of those were caused by a legal hit. Another 26 per cent came on plays that were deemed accidental, 17 per cent were ruled to be the result of an illegal hit and eight per cent were suffered in fights.

The remaining five per cent couldn't be accounted for because they occurred on an undetected play.
So, the majority of hits came from legal plays as the rules stand now. But now, the solution is to fix that by making any and all shots to the head be deemed illegal. It seems fair, but how many players will second guess themselves if what they are about to do is legal? Hardest hitting is the several bullet points that came out of the GM discussion group.
  • A pannel of ex-players to continue looking into the concussion issue.
  • Shanahan to work on equipment construction rules.
  • Fining teams' ownership for large quantities of suspensions.
  • Getting an engineering team to construct a safer hockey rink structure while eliminating the dreaded "seamless glass" by next season.
I would have to say that this is a real positive step in the right direction. Even though I am mostly positive to the NHL's leadership, I wonder just how this will play out among fans and will the players buy into it as well.

After all, the true change is to the players themselves. The truest form of change will come with the player attitude and vast increase in the respect to their fellow player.

[Via: Rogers Sportsnet]
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