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The damage done by concussions

Sidney Crosby is a case study in what we know, and what we don’t know


 
The Damage done

Brian Babineau / NHL / Getty Images

Until a month ago, there was nothing typical about Sidney Crosby. At 23, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain had already won the Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, and the praise of Wayne Gretzky, who raved in December: “He’s the real deal. He’s the best player in the game.” Crosby had been on a 25-game scoring streak, amassing goals at a faster rate than ever before in his career—and the longest run since Mats Sundin’s 30-game tear almost 20 years ago.

Crosby’s streak came to a crashing end, however, when he was diagnosed with a concussion in early January—having endured two massive blows only a few days apart. The first time, Crosby took the cold, hard shoulder of Washington Capitals winger David Steckel to the side of his head. The velocity of the hit snapped his neck back, and spun him in the air for a full rotation. His 200-lb. body thudded onto the ice, and as Crosby hunched over, his mouthguard slipped out. Eventually, he skated to the bench, bent over. Despite a sore neck, Crosby shrugged off the pain, and played in the next game.

That’s when a crushing check by Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning slammed Crosby’s head against the boards. The collision happened so fast that startled fans on the other side of the Plexiglas jerked back in their seats as if Crosby might come hurtling right into their laps. Instead, he melted onto the ice and doubled over. When his face was finally visible, the grimace said it all. ‘Sid the Kid’ was done. Suddenly and spectacularly, Sidney Crosby went from being the golden boy of hockey to just one more pro athlete incapacitated with a concussion.

If they weren’t so serious, concussions could be ridiculed as a sports cliché, like missing front teeth. Nearly 50 NHL players have been out of commission because of the injury, including a few who haven’t healed from last season. Concussions aren’t limited to hockey. Canadian Justin Morneau, a prized first baseman with the Minnesota Twins, missed the second half of last season because of a concussion he got in July. Canadian speed skater Kristina Groves, a four-time Olympic medallist, just announced she won’t return to the rink this season because of a concussion she received in November. Meanwhile, the NFL is perpetually embroiled in controversy over mounting evidence that repeated hits to (and with) the head are tied to brain damage seen in its former players that resembles Alzheimer’s disease. Even The New Yorker, known more for intellectual commentary than athletic analysis, has tackled the issue with a story asking: “Does football have a future?”

But it’s taken a player of the calibre and promise of Crosby to convey the gravity of the injury to many Canadians. (His influence can’t be overstated: a recent national poll revealed he is the second most popular Canuck, after Gretzky.) Crosby is a case study in what we know, and more importantly, what we don’t know, about concussions, why they vary from person to person, the best ways to prevent and treat them, and whether anyone really can escape their long-term effects.

The current consensus among experts is that 80 per cent of individuals appear symptom-free within 10 days of getting a concussion. But there is no certainty about whether subtle changes persist in the brain. Or about what’s happening in that 20 per cent who don’t recover quickly. A 2006 study by neurologist Dr. Kevin Gordon at Dalhousie University in Halifax estimated that there are 110 concussions per 100,000 Canadians annually—a lowball figure, since many go unreported or undiagnosed. That means there are roughly 37,600 concussions in Canada today, and 7,500 won’t disappear within two weeks. Put another way, this would be like all of the players in the NHL, NFL, CFL and MLB having a persistent concussion—times two.

The incidence of concussion is even higher among children and adolescents (up to 200 per 100,000). In youth, the injury is harder to detect, and the symptoms tend to be more severe and take longer to subside. The impact on development could be more serious too, says Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, a neurologist and professor at the University of Michigan. “Until about 19 or 20 you’re still gaining neural connections, so any effect before that has the potential for changing the final course of that person’s cognitive ability.”

But many parents don’t know their children have been brain injured, suspects Philip Schatz, a neuropsychologist at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia who studies concussion in youth: “Kids have sustained concussions and either they’re not aware of it or they haven’t told anybody about it.” Children can’t articulate their symptoms, or they are confused with other conditions that cause vomiting, fatigue, and irritability, while teens and their parents might attribute them to adolescent drama.

In this way, Crosby’s concussion made him typical, too: he became just another kid who got hit once, and played it off until he got hit again—and was forced to sit out his favourite game. What’s happened to him has turned the eternal debate about changing pro sports rules and building better equipment into a gut-wrenching discussion about regular boys and girls who’ve suffered concussions—and whether they won’t reach their full potential because of it.

“It’s horrible that Sidney had to sustain an injury like he has. But this is a common problem that’s not being talked about enough,” says Dr. Paul Echlin, a sports physician in London, Ont., who published a shocking study last fall indicating the rate of concussion among junior hockey players to be at least seven times higher than previously thought. “You can’t turn your head [on the issue] when you know this injury is occurring at an epidemic proportion” in young people, he says. “This is the most precious resource we have. Their future is at stake.”

Few people know that as well as Ken Faloon, a stay-at-home dad in Halifax. His son Jacob got a concussion while playing high school football in late 2009, and it’s clear he is still processing what happened. “I don’t want anyone to go through what we went through,” he told Maclean’s. “It was very traumatic. It put years on my life, and it really put a stop to Jacob’s. Everything he was doing came to an end in an instant.”

It was Thanksgiving weekend, and the second-last game of an undefeated season for the Citadel Phoenix, when Jacob, then 15, was put into play. As he was running down field, a hulking mass blindsided him with a helmet to his left jaw and temple. Jacob collapsed backwards onto the grass. “I literally saw stars. The cartoons have it bang on. Then I saw colours: green, yellow, purple. It was really weird.” He got up, but could barely keep his balance. At the sidelines, he told the coaches he felt nausea and suspected a concussion. They gave him ice for his throbbing jaw and said to take it easy.

In the ensuing days, Jacob didn’t feel quite right, but he continued to go to school, where he was taking advanced classes as part of the pre-international baccalaureate program. “I thought it was the best thing to do,” Jacob says, “to try and stay on top of it.” He also worked out at the gym with his friends. But soon, Jacob started getting “splitting” headaches, especially while attempting to solve complex math formulas, something he used to do with enviable ease.

For the next two weeks, Jacob stayed home except for a visit to his family doctor, who encouraged the Faloons to keep on eye on his symptoms, and assured them he’d be okay eventually. When the headaches began to lessen, Jacob resumed his former routine. And then the debilitating headaches resumed too. This cycle went on for six months—until finally, in April, when Jacob’s dad got him an appointment with neurologist Dr. Kevin Gordon.

By that point, battling headaches had left Jacob—usually vibrant, articulate, studious and active—feeling depressed and lonely. “I just isolated myself in my room with no lights and slept for as long as possible,” he recalls. “It was the most boring time of my life.” His father can’t shake the memory of sitting on the back deck with Jacob one day. “He was so upset, and he said, ‘Dad, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.'” Neither did he. “It’s a horrible feeling. You feel so helpless.’

When Gordon came into the examination room, “The first thing he said was, ‘You’re going to get better,’ ” recalls Jacob, who immediately felt “a rush of relief.” But getting better meant Jacob would be “bored” for a while yet. The current treatment for concussion is two-pronged: cognitive rest and physical rest until all symptoms have subsided. If even one symptom resurfaced, Jacob had to revert to the rest-and-wait stage. To track his progress, Jacob charted his symptoms and their severity every day using a questionnaire called the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 until he reached a zero score. (See the sidebar on this page for a pocket version and macleans.ca/concussion for the complete version.) It took nearly three months.

During their time with Gordon, the Faloons  (Jacob’s mother, Martha Archibald, is an architect, and he has two brothers) realized that a helmet-to-helmet collision Jacob had experienced during practice just two days before the game had probably caused a concussion too. Jacob had ?gured it was just a ding and a nosebleed. “It seemed trivial,” he says, so he didn’t bother telling his parents. That first blow likely made the second one worse. “There is good evidence that a concussion on top of a concussion is associated with more symptoms and a longer recovery,” says Gordon. The Faloons also learned that Jacob’s efforts to push through the headaches by continuing to go to school and exercise had actually perpetuated his symptoms.

That news devastated Jacob’s dad: “There’s nothing worse than realizing that you’re trying to do something that was wrong,” he says. “I feel like I could’ve gotten him to Dr. Gordon sooner, or that I wasn’t aware enough. I like to think of myself as smarter than that.’

What happened to Jacob Faloon is not uncommon. “Although awareness and knowledge is increasing, there are still concussions that are unrecognized and therefore not managed appropriately,” says Dr. Laura Purcell, a sports physician and professor at McMaster University in Hamilton. Adds Dr. Karen Johnston, a neurosurgeon at Athletic Edge Sports Medicine and professor at the University of Toronto: “If someone tells me they’ve had one, I usually add a zero to the end [meaning 10] because it’s always underestimated.’

When concussions are suspected, they’re often downplayed. Schatz points to research that concussed high school players don’t always tell someone about their injury. Why not? “The players want to play. They fear being taken out of the game, or losing their position on the team,” explains Echlin, while coaches and parents put too much emphasis on winning, and pushing through the pain. Adding to the problem is the cutesy language surrounding concussions: when players shake their dizzy heads, they’re ‘getting the cobwebs out.’ When they can barely get stand up, they’ve got ‘Bambi legs.’

Even measures put in place to take concussions seriously, such as reporting all injuries to the league, are ignored. A 2006 study by researchers at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., compared concussion rates in youth hockey as reported by coaches and players versus official reports to the British Columbia Amateur Hockey Association. It revealed a massive disconnect: official reports indicated fewer than one concussion per 1,000 game hours, while coaches noted nearly eight, and players declared up to 24.

Last fall, Echlin discovered the true prevalence of concussions among young people after following two junior hockey teams for a season (players ranged in age from 16 to 21). In 52 games, there were 21 concussions. Only three of those concussions were self-admitted by players, and more than one in four of those players sustained another or recurrent concussions that season. “This is with a trained specialist physician on site,’ he says, adding that without that, “I don’t know how many would’ve been picked up or treated.’

This is compounded by the fact that historically many sports team doctors (minor or major league) have been specialists in orthopaedics, with a particular focus on bones and ligaments, not the head. “But they were the ones having to deal with all the brain injuries, which didn’t really make a lot of sense,’ says Johnston. “Obviously they were doing the best they can, but couldn’t bring a deep understanding to that venue.’

The question that looms large is, what does one concussion or more mean in the long run? “Almost all the science until recently has been in adults and young adults,’ says Johnston, and it’s unclear to what extent the current rest-and-wait approach to treating adult populations should be extrapolated to kids, or whether they need more extensive care. The lack of understanding makes doctors even more concerned. “We are very conservative with children,’ she explains. “They suffer more with this injury, their recovery patterns are different, and they obviously have developmental milestones that they’re going through that may suffer.”

New research is illuminating the situation. One study by Schatz analyzed data for more than 2,500 healthy high school athletes across three states and found that those who had a history of two or more concussions were more likely to report concussion-related symptoms—such as headaches, balance problems, sensitivity to light and noise, trouble concentrating and sleeping, irritability, nervousness—than their peers who had one concussion or none. His previous work has shown that students who have had two or more concussions scored lower on measures of attention and concentration, and did worse in school.

That’s what happened to Jacob Archibald-Faloon. Before his concussion, he received marks in the high 90s, took classes a grade ahead of him, and won awards. In the months after his concussion, he was so debilitated that he couldn’t process information, let alone make it to class regularly. His grades dropped significantly, and he wound up flunking two courses. Until the headaches took over his life, Jacob thrived on academic challenges. “I didn’t dislike any subjects. I liked school,’ he recalls. “But the concussion made me like it less and less.’

Today, Jacob’s headaches are gone and he’s back at school full time. His marks have picked up, he says, “but my organization and work ethic isn’t what it used to be.” This change still stuns his father, who remembers the days when he’d have to tell Jacob to stop studying. “After the concussion it was the longest time before he had that endurance. It wouldn’t have tired him in the past.” The Faloons have every hope that Jacob will continue to make great strides at school, and he’s already considering universities and career options, including law or medicine. Had Jacob not received care for his concussion, his future might not have seemed so bright. Very likely, says Gordon, “he would have had headaches for the rest of his life. And I think he would have not gone to university.’

At 61, Ron Perowne wonders too how his life might have been different had he never had a concussion—or seven. The former defensive back for the Montreal Alouettes received a career-ending hit while running back a punt in 1974. One player tackled Perowne around the knees, and another rushed into the back of his ear. He was knocked out, carried off the field and hospitalized for a few days. “I remember fantasizing about coming back and catching the kicks again, and I had a momentary feeling of fear,” Perowne told Maclean’s from his home in Montreal. “I’d never had that before. I was afraid of getting hit and getting hurt. As soon as I felt that, I knew my career was over.’

Over the years, Perowne has become a voracious reader of the latest research on the long-term effects of concussions. He’s also reflected on his injuries, and how they might have changed him. It all adds up in his mind: after his first two when he was a kid, he became easily distracted, and had to drop out of advanced classes; after his next five as a young man, he began struggling with memory loss, poor concentration, depression, and low confidence. Although no doctor has ever told Perowne as much, he believes those lifelong challenges are linked to the damage done to his brain from repetitive blows to the head.

It’s not a wild hypothesis, considering the growing body of evidence on chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative disease resulting from repeated brain injuries, including concussions. It causes memory problems, confusion, paranoia, aggression, depression and eventually dementia, according to the Sports Legacy Institute, a pioneering organization that studies CTE with Boston University. It was co-founded by Chris Nowinski, a former WWE wrestler, whose own career ended because of concussions, and who later wrote an acclaimed book about the dangers of brain injury in sports.

Researchers used to think CTE only happened to boxers, but over the last decade it’s been famously discovered in the brains of athletes who played other sports, especially football. The findings have been stunning. The brain of NFL star Andre Waters, a big hitter who committed suicide at age 44, resembled that of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient. Mike Webster, also of NFL fame, became severely demented before his death at age 50. CTE affected NHL player Reggie Fleming, who died at 73 after battling depression. It’s also been discovered in the brains of two young athletes, ages 18 and 21. Though CTE manifests differently in each player, the message is the same: “Hits to the head do matter,” says Nowinski, who has struggled with headaches and mood issues over the years. “I’d be crazy not to worry. That’s partly what motivates me to help find a cure.’

More and more scientists are studying the long-term effects of concussion. Recently a ‘brain bank’ was established at the Toronto Western Hospital to examine donated brains of deceased athletes. Perowne also plans on donating his brain for research when he dies. For now, he is participating in a study at the Université de Montréal looking into the decline in brain function of retired athletes who had concussions decades ago. In 2009, those researchers found that this population had “significant reductions” in episodic memory and exhibited “significant motor-execution slowness.’

While all this work is going on, young athletes across the country are playing hockey or another sport they love.

Crosby has just begun ‘light’ skating, the next step toward getting back in the game. Jacob Archibald-Faloon has decided to redirect his energy toward running track. “I’m thinking I’m done with football. Me and my dad talked about it a lot. It’s just high school football. In the overall scheme of things, it’s such a small part of my life. To get another concussion would be really bad for my brain. And seeing as my marks suffered, we wouldn’t even want the possibility of that,” he says. “It was a very hard decision to make, but I know it was the right decision.”


 

The damage done by concussions

  1. the physical abuse is CRIMINAL

  2. the physical abuse is CRIMINAL

    • thanks for saying it twice.

  3. I played hockey for many years as a youngster, and we were always told to keep our heads up. Hockey is a dangerous sport and there's really nothing nicer than a fair body check , delivered well. What is not so nice are the charges and boardings delivered from behind which cause these needless injuries. Until there is some consequence , to the perpetrators of these injuries, nothing will change. If the leagues were to institute an "eye for an eye" penalty, where the offender would be suspended for a period of time equal to, or more than ,the injured player, for all illegal hits, it may cause some of these guilty players to have second thoughts about hitting from behind. As it stands now , penalties to the offenders are inconsequential.

  4. If David Steckel nailed Crosby intentionally be should be banned from hockey!!! Was he cleared of an intentional effort to give Sydney a head shot???

    Keith P

  5. I played hockey for many years as a youngster, and we were always told to keep our heads up. Hockey is a dangerous sport and there's really nothing nicer than a fair body check , delivered well. What is not so nice are the charges and boardings delivered from behind which cause these needless injuries. Until there is some consequence , to the perpetrators of these injuries, nothing will change. If the leagues were to institute an "eye for an eye" penalty, where the offender would be suspended for a period of time equal to, or more than ,the injured player, for all illegal hits, it may cause some of these guilty players to have second thoughts about hitting from behind. As it stands now , penalties to the offenders are inconsequential.

    • It might be nice to deliver a hard body check, Gerald, but have you never had the dream of scoring the winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in overtime? Even though Paul Henderson undoubtedly delivered a lot of checks, I'm sure that his winning goal against the Russians for Team Canada in 1972 was his sweetest memory in hockey.

      • So the ends justify the means? Unless I missed something while I watched that series, I don't recall any of Henderson's checks being even remotely close to what we're talking about today. What more relates to the discussion today is more along the lines of Kharlamov''s vicious, intentional slash to Clarke's ankle (though it couldn't have happened to a 'nicer' guy). That sort of a mentality is far too much in evidence in the NHL these days. Campbell is obviously singing to someone elses' tune.

    • Absolutely.

  6. If David Steckel nailed Crosby intentionally be should be banned from hockey!!! Was he cleared of an intentional effort to give Sydney a head shot???

    Keith P

    • I have watched this reply a number of times and each time come away thinking there was never a need for this hit to have happened. Steckel has enough professional skill to avoid his crushing hit to Crosby's head. And since when did a penalty depend on the intention of the offending player? Intentional or not, we do penalize players for unintentional actions.

    • I think Gerard is right. The person who does the dirty hit should be out of the game as long as the person who they hit is and they should have their pay deducted accordingly. If that had happened to Todd Bertuzzi, his career would have ended with that nasty hit.

    • I hope that I'm wrong, but when I saw the replay on tape several times I believe that it was intentional. I also note that the hit began with the forearm, then elbow, then shoulder. Steckel is a huge man, and it would have been a killer collision even if Crosby had seen him coming.

      I was a lacross player in my younger days, so physical contact is not a four letter word to me. My opinion is that the David Steckels of the NHL should be purged. He is not the only one that plays to injure others. And while we're at it, we had better get rid of the two or three coaches and GMs that put organizational pressure on goons to level the playing field. Mark Crawford is one such head coach (play on words there, head coach).

    • I stopped being a fan of the Detroit Redwings when the Wings signed Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks, who, you may recall, nailed Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche and broke a few vertebrae in Moore's neck, ending his career. Granted, Bertuzzi is talented player, but he is also a thug who should have been banned for life. When a player decides to take a cheap shot at another player, he has made a decision to hurt or injure another player. That decision says a lot about a player's personal ethics, only it doesn't say anything good.

    • Yes, he has. Stecks is a full half foot taller than Sid, that's why Sid bore the brunt of the impact.

      It was not a deliberate hit, clean or dirty, just 2 players colliding in the heat of the game.

  7. Professional hockey is all about displaying your talents in a set of extreme conditions. You need to be tough, smart, and have some form of talent to survive. Crosby, in a blind pursuit of personal achievement, forgot to play the game with some caution. Thats what happens when people rely on rules to protect them. It's like crossing the street without looking because you have the green light. Where I live, at any one moment, there are at least a thousand cars running a red light.

    Realistically no-one needs Crosby in the line-up to enjoy hockey. Those that do don't love hockey. They love Crosby and should just buy themselves a poster.

  8. Professional hockey is all about displaying your talents in a set of extreme conditions. You need to be tough, smart, and have some form of talent to survive. Crosby, in a blind pursuit of personal achievement, forgot to play the game with some caution. Thats what happens when people rely on rules to protect them. It's like crossing the street without looking because you have the green light. Where I live, at any one moment, there are at least a thousand cars running a red light.

    Realistically no-one needs Crosby in the line-up to enjoy hockey. Those that do don't love hockey. They love Crosby and should just buy themselves a poster.

    • You should check the highlights of the Boston/Dallas game last night. The Boston player took a hit to the head very similar to that which Marc Savard received last year. Rules need to be put in place to protect people's heads and health. If someone runs a red-light you are dead; they will be charged with homocide and punished. As for Sidney Crosby, you are in denial….he fills up hockey arenas. He is a cash cow for the NHL. You remind me of the people who hated Wayne Gretzky but would have given there left testicle to have had him play for their home team.

      • Good hockey cities fill arenas. Crappy ones are still crappy after he leaves.

        If someone gets punished for homicide it won't change the fact that I'm dead. I'll continue looking both ways to avoid that fact.

        I don't hate Crosby or Gretzky (the mcdonald's and pepsi pimp). I just love Hockey. The players I really enjoyed in the last olympics were Nash, Getzlaf, and Richards. Thankfully Crosby could chip in with the game-winner.

    • Don't you have a heart full of compassion. Remarkable way of ignoring an injury to the biggest marquee player in the game…one from a blind-sided hit. And we do expect rules to help protect us from goons, whom you would appear to accept as just another obstacle of the game to watch out for.

      • OK Pablo, you get a game misconduct for blind-sided goonish commentary! I save my compassion for my sick Grandfather, and my neighbour with two daughters who must continue without a father, and my very sick cat.

        Rules don't provide protection. They provide punishment after the fact.

    • The tone of your post Robert suggests that you may in fact be a survivor of several concussions yourself. Criminal intent is one thing that can and should be surgically removed from professional sport, unless you're talking about cage fighting maybe.

      My vote is to preserve talent and skillful play in professional hockey by curbing the kind of hostility that was unleashed on Crosby. There is no way that anyone can rationalize the Steckel incident as inspirational competition. Get rid of him, and his coach.

      • Well Hal, if you closely review my tone, it suggest that players need to take some responsibility to ensure they don't put themselves in harms way. That tone seems to be echoed by the pro players themselves.

        "Criminal intent" and "surgically remove" seems a little extreme/hostile? You could always watch another sport, or just watch some kids play!

        My vote is to preserve talent, and skillful play in the extreme conditions of professional hockey. Anything less is recreational.

        Yes, Ive had 3 concussions. One related to sport.

        • I just have to ask about your concussions, Robert. How does a guy who is always keeping himself out of harms way end up with 3 concussions?

    • Interesting, if Crosby handn't been injured on that play, Robert would probably be saying: " I love his go- for-it spirit!" Blame the victim?

      • Oh thats right, there was an accusation of criminal intent, so why not make the leap to suggest I'm "blaming the victim".

        Again, kids hockey probably has everything you're looking for.

    • What? Was he supposed to suddenly grow eyes in the back of his head? I played all kinds of sports growing up and I know two things: it's possible to check and tackle without hitting or leading with the head (even big -me- on small) and if you hit someone in the head it is no accident, you mean it. Just look how quickly head-first hits subsided in the NFL this year when they started suspending people. Not hitting the head doesn't reduce collisions, it just redirects them to parts of the body that are better able to withstand them (often with crowd pleasing effect – John Elway's helicopter touchdown in the Super Bowl for example).

    • Clearly you know nothing about the sport so should stfu cause you sound like the idiot you most likely are.
      Crosby is the best in this game in a long time & what happened to him was the result of this disgusting league letting more & more goons & no use talentless animals in & calling them hockey players, something needs to be done fast or the NHL will nothing more than a joke, as you are.

    • Your commentary is disgusting.
      "In a blind pursuit of personal achievement"
      "what happens when people rely on rules to protect them"
      "no one needs Crosby in the line-up to enjoy hockey … they … should …buy themselves a poster"
      I'm not even a hockey fan but I recognize biased, insensitive, ill-informed and downright rude comments when I read them.
      Mr. Van Eyk – if you don't see how off the mark your comments are, you are in dire need of some sensitivity training.
      Come down off your high horse and join the human race.

  9. At 23, I've had 3 concussions, each from sports that are supposed to be 'low impact' – soccer and basketball. The first one wasn't recognized at all and after being hit, I got up and finished playing the game. It was only afterwards getting in the car that I realised I felt sick to my stomach. Once the 3rd concussion came, my recovery time wasn't 10 days, it was weeks. I had ear-splitting headaches for over a month that serverly impacted day to day functioning. We need to take this seriously and start protecting our kids and ourselves. There is no place for any of this in sports when you are supposed to be playing "for the love of the game." It's time to change the rules in hockey, make young football players aware for the dangers, get high school coaches trained to recognize concussions and make sure our brains come out still functional.

  10. At 23, I've had 3 concussions, each from sports that are supposed to be 'low impact' – soccer and basketball. The first one wasn't recognized at all and after being hit, I got up and finished playing the game. It was only afterwards getting in the car that I realised I felt sick to my stomach. Once the 3rd concussion came, my recovery time wasn't 10 days, it was weeks. I had ear-splitting headaches for over a month that serverly impacted day to day functioning. We need to take this seriously and start protecting our kids and ourselves. There is no place for any of this in sports when you are supposed to be playing "for the love of the game." It's time to change the rules in hockey, make young football players aware for the dangers, get high school coaches trained to recognize concussions and make sure our brains come out still functional.

    • Anyone who has played competitive soccer knows it is not low impact.

  11. A dreadful thought comes to mind. This is nothing new, It is just that we only recently learned that this is a deadly, fatal injury that would change an athlete's entire life.

    One thinks back to others who succumbed to this injury before it was fully understood how dangerous this was..

    It makes one wonder why.

  12. A dreadful thought comes to mind. This is nothing new, It is just that we only recently learned that this is a deadly, fatal injury that would change an athlete's entire life.

    One thinks back to others who succumbed to this injury before it was fully understood how dangerous this was..

    It makes one wonder why.

  13. You should check the highlights of the Boston/Dallas game last night. The Boston player took a hit to the head very similar to that which Marc Savard received last year. Rules need to be put in place to protect people's heads and health. If someone runs a red-light you are dead; they will be charged with homocide and punished. As for Sidney Crosby, you are in denial….he fills up hockey arenas. He is a cash cow for the NHL. You remind me of the people who hated Wayne Gretzky but would have given there left testicle to have had him play for their home team.

  14. Don't you have a heart full of compassion. Remarkable way of ignoring an injury to the biggest marquee player in the game…one from a blind-sided hit. And we do expect rules to help protect us from goons, whom you would appear to accept as just another obstacle of the game to watch out for.

  15. I have watched this reply a number of times and each time come away thinking there was never a need for this hit to have happened. Steckel has enough professional skill to avoid his crushing hit to Crosby's head. And since when did a penalty depend on the intention of the offending player? Intentional or not, we do penalize players for unintentional actions.

  16. I think Gerard is right. The person who does the dirty hit should be out of the game as long as the person who they hit is and they should have their pay deducted accordingly. If that had happened to Todd Bertuzzi, his career would have ended with that nasty hit.

  17. My guess and I sincerely hope I am wrong is Sidney will not be back this year…..very sad. I love watching him play. Gerald you are so right and Robert??? well please "give your head a shake!"

  18. My guess and I sincerely hope I am wrong is Sidney will not be back this year…..very sad. I love watching him play. Gerald you are so right and Robert??? well please "give your head a shake!"

    • Well Robert, I've watched a lot of good hockey lately. Can't really see how a few extra points contributed by Crosby would have made much of a difference.

      Guess I'm lucky not to have an infatuation with Crosby. I just love hockey.

      If you believe that head shaking works please give it a try.

    • Robert Reid, give Robert Van Eyk a break – he has had multiple concussions….

  19. Concussions in pro athletes certainly are a concern. We can see the effect that multiple concussions have over the course of a career, and sports leagues should be doing whatever they have to do to cut down on the shots to the head. But statements like this concern me:

    "The current consensus among experts is that 80 per cent of individuals appear symptom-free within 10 days of getting a concussion. But there is no certainty about whether subtle changes persist in the brain."

    There is no certainty that TV doesn't cause brain cancer, either. Let's not create another hysterical public health scare over something that has been with us for a long time and that we deal with successfully most of the time. Journalists have to eat, so the tendancy is to blow this stuff up. I don't see any evidence here that the concerns inside pro sports, where multiple concussions are common, need to be carried out into the general public where most people get maybe one or two in a lifetime.

  20. Last time I was at the toboggan hill, a family showed up and the kids had helmets on. There was nothing for them to run into except one tree that was way off to the side. I guess it didn't detract from the kids' fun to wear helmets, but it does seem to send the message that the activity is dangerous. I was a wimpy kid and if someone told me some activity was dangerous enough to need a helmet, I would have thought twice about doing it. Maybe that's just me, but I think something is wrong with the world when kids feel they have to wear helmets doing regular things like tobogganing and biking around the neighbourhood.

  21. Concussions in pro athletes certainly are a concern. We can see the effect that multiple concussions have over the course of a career, and sports leagues should be doing whatever they have to do to cut down on the shots to the head. But statements like this concern me:

    "The current consensus among experts is that 80 per cent of individuals appear symptom-free within 10 days of getting a concussion. But there is no certainty about whether subtle changes persist in the brain."

    There is no certainty that TV doesn't cause brain cancer, either. Let's not create another hysterical public health scare over something that has been with us for a long time and that we deal with successfully most of the time. Journalists have to eat, so the tendancy is to blow this stuff up. I don't see any evidence here that the concerns inside pro sports, where multiple concussions are common, need to be carried out into the general public where most people get maybe one or two in a lifetime.

    • Patrick, did you ever see a documentary that the CBC I think it was did on that Canadian wrestler Chris Benoit and the Edmonton Eskimos Football team from the 1970's. Fascinating story about what multiple concussions and hits to the head do to a person's brain.

    • till you've seen it happen to someone in normal life who is never the same again, then maybe you'd change your mind about the general public who might get one or two in a lifetime.

      I used to work as a rehab RN with brain injury, and believe me it isn't all hockey and football players. Then I saw it happen to an old friend of mine. He and his wife had their nice normal life yanked out from under them forever. He has had an unusual amount of damage from a relatively light concussion, and he has been disabled by it. He falls a lot now, can't be left alone for fear of accidents or leaving a stove burner on,. can't hold down a job, and has memory problems. He used to be a hard worker, primary breadwinner as a computer programmer till a "minor" concussion in a minor car accident.

      More research is needed to figure out why some get hurt worse than others. Meanwhile don't discount this as journalistic exaggeration.

      • As a nurse, you were seeing the worst-case small percentage of everyone who does active things and everyone who gets hit on the head. The fact a few people suffer serious injury is not a reason for everyone to modify their behaviour. If we add up all the threats we should be guarding against, you couldn't make a case for it being safe to leave your house.

  22. Last time I was at the toboggan hill, a family showed up and the kids had helmets on. There was nothing for them to run into except one tree that was way off to the side. I guess it didn't detract from the kids' fun to wear helmets, but it does seem to send the message that the activity is dangerous. I was a wimpy kid and if someone told me some activity was dangerous enough to need a helmet, I would have thought twice about doing it. Maybe that's just me, but I think something is wrong with the world when kids feel they have to wear helmets doing regular things like tobogganing and biking around the neighbourhood.

    • Patrick, I certainly hope you would encourage any youngster or adult to wear a helmet biking. Just the simple fall off the bike can create a life long head injury or death. You don't have to run into a tree tobogganing to get injured. How about falling off and getting your head banged up on the hard snow or another person hitting you or the list could go on. How many people are presently in the health system because of preventable injuries?. Times change and we get smarter hopefully and thats why most ski hills require helmets. Please don't criticize a person or family for wanting to protect themselves even though it may not seem cool to you. Remember when smoking ,not wearing a seat belt, drinking and driving or texting while driving was cool??

      • Mowing the lawn can cause life-long injury or death. Fixing a leaky faucet can cause life-long injury or death. Driving a car anywhere can certainly cause life-long injury or death. How do people like you summon up the courage to go out the door every day?

        I do remember when smoking, not wearing seat belts, drinking and texting while driving was cool and I miss those days a lot. We used to have some fun.

        OK, I'm joking…mostly.

    • Patrick! Aaah! My gut response is to beg you to assure me that you are not a parent……

      Don't you remember Natasha Richardson that actress that fell and hit her head on the bunny hill while learning to ski on Mont Tremblant and then died of her head injury. She didn't wear a helmet either even though it is now common practice for people to wear helmets.

      • What's next? Wear a helmet while snow shoveling, or running, or walking down the street? What did people do on snowy hills before helmets? I learned to ride a bike without a helmet. There are limits to how "safe" you can be. The important thing is to be alert and be smart. Remember that the next time you hop on the 401 and speed up to 120 KM per hour. It's not solely the activity.

        • Esteban – no one is suggesting you wear a helmet doing activities that statistically do not result in head injuries. However, bike riding is an activity that statistics tell us is likely to result in injuries to the head. That is why the government makes it mandatory for children to wear helmets until they are 18 years of age.

          As all decisions we make in life are based on our assessment of the risk/benefit of each course of action we take…exactly what is the risk of wearing a helmet while you ride a bike? It is the financial cost of wearing the helmet that outweighs of the benefit that the helmet provides in terms of safety?

          • This is my point, exactly. There is a cost to placing restrictions on kid's fun and communicating to them that the world is a dangerous place that must be approached like a loaded weapon. The statistics on head injuries while riding bikes are not compelling at all. Me and everyone in my generation rode bikes much more than kids today do, and I don't know a single person who ever had a serious injury doing it. Actually, that's not true, I know I guy who broke his back mountain biking and he was wearing a helmet.

      • One person. One time. Do you understand at all that a few freak accidents should not inform our overall behaviour as a society?

  23. Good hockey cities fill arenas. Crappy ones are still crappy after he leaves.

    If someone gets punished for homicide it won't change the fact that I'm dead. I'll continue looking both ways to avoid that fact.

    I don't hate Crosby or Gretzky (the mcdonald's and pepsi pimp). I just love Hockey. The players I really enjoyed in the last olympics were Nash, Getzlaf, and Richards. Thankfully Crosby could chip in with the game-winner.

  24. OK Pablo, you get a game misconduct for blind-sided goonish commentary! I save my compassion for my sick Grandfather, and my neighbour with two daughters who must continue without a father, and my very sick cat.

    Rules don't provide protection. They provide punishment after the fact.

  25. Well Robert, I've watched a lot of good hockey lately. Can't really see how a few extra points contributed by Crosby would have made much of a difference.

    Guess I'm lucky not to have an infatuation with Crosby. I just love hockey.

    If you believe that head shaking works please give it a try.

  26. This comment was deleted.

    • You seriously read an article about concussions and the only thing you could think to comment on was this? So if we pursue academics we'll leave the country for a bunch of years and come back and try to be an egomaniac hero? I'm not a Harper advocate at all, but concussions in sports happened when the Liberals were in power too. Bertuzzi crushed Steve Moore when the Liberals were in power, do we blame that incident on the Liberal party? Keep your political beliefs to an article that actually involves politics.

    • Am I the only pink-o cringing with embarrassment? I think you just insulted 95% of Canadians.

      If your comments are correct, we can conclude an empty head is beneficial as leader of a party, and a full one is detrimental to making sence.

    • Emily, I am sure even Michael Ignatieff likes Sidney Crosby and enjoyed watching the US and Canada play for the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics. Have you ever heard of Dr. Randy Gregg, a physician who played for the Edmonton Oilers. Do you have any idea how many children go to universities on hockey scholarships? Even Harvard has a hockey team!

    • My dear Emily, I feel very sympathetic toward you. Have you recently been in an accident? Suffered a blow to the head from a fall? Been beaten by a Neo-Con? If these muddled thoughts are what came to you after contemplating this article I fear you too may be suffering from brain trauma. Even hockey hating liberals might agree that you should have yourself checked.

    • ROFL. Yep, every hockey player votes Conservative. Even the females. Therefore, hockey should be banned. /sarc

      • Actually, I'm starting to believe several people hide under the alias "Emily": there's one real Emily, and then some trolls just use her alias to spawn controversy. Indeed, had it been her, she certainly would've replied, and more than once at that.

        • The character Kinsella recently cited likes to play this game – borrow others identity to post.

    • Sorry folks…that ain't me….I have reported it to the website admin.

      Kinsella is after this poster as well for posting in other people's names

  27. You seriously read an article about concussions and the only thing you could think to comment on was this? So if we pursue academics we'll leave the country for a bunch of years and come back and try to be an egomaniac hero? I'm not a Harper advocate at all, but concussions in sports happened when the Liberals were in power too. Bertuzzi crushed Steve Moore when the Liberals were in power, do we blame that incident on the Liberal party? Keep your political beliefs to an article that actually involves politics.

  28. Having lost several teeth via the aid of a few hocky pucks,I accepted this as part of the game.,cheap head shots however from dumbell goons,Don Cherry's proud ones,are ,or should be a crime.
    It was a great joy to watch "our" Sid play the game as only he can,he is the best, all things considered,in hockey now.
    I no longer watch 'Coache's corner',or the blood bath fights on Sports Net and TSN .If Sid does not return to the rink,I will no longer watch NHL hockey.

  29. Having lost several teeth via the aid of a few hocky pucks,I accepted this as part of the game.,cheap head shots however from dumbell goons,Don Cherry's proud ones,are ,or should be a crime.
    It was a great joy to watch "our" Sid play the game as only he can,he is the best, all things considered,in hockey now.
    I no longer watch 'Coache's corner',or the blood bath fights on Sports Net and TSN .If Sid does not return to the rink,I will no longer watch NHL hockey.

    • You know, face masks and visors that protect your jaw have been around for a few decades.
      But I for one am glad you decided to fill your orthodontist's pockets with a few thousand dollars, and experience quite a bit of pain, instead of investing a couple bucks in some protective polycarbonate.

      • Well K.,You've missed the point ,or,if you please,the net,by at least two miles.(Sid,was wearing the best of gear).

        Oh ya,I've been aroun for seven decades.

        Quite interesting,that you are 'glad' that I suffered quite a bit of pain.Don boy will love you for this.

      • It's interesting that you delight in other's pain,and it seems that this is as far asyour 'brain; developed.

  30. Am I the only pink-o cringing with embarrassment? I think you just insulted 95% of Canadians.

    If your comments are correct, we can conclude an empty head is beneficial as leader of a party, and a full one is detrimental to making sence.

  31. When I look at the replay, I see Crosby making a slight turn while looking back and away from Steckel who seems to be making a bee-line for another part of the ice or maybe the bench. While the hit does not look intentional, Steckel makes not effort (and he is not wearing blinders) to move any part of his body to avoid hitting Crosby. Yes, you have got to "keep your head up kid", but that should be when you are in possession of the puck. This was not the case in the Crosby hit. In professional hockey, it is all about winning and in the drive to win, the players very seldom demonstrate respect for one another's well-being. Hard fought battles for puck possession is one thing, what Steckel did is completely different. My fear is that this is the beginning of the end for Crosby's career as a hockey player. Will his team want to risk another concussion in the Olympics? His style, what makes him GREAT as a player, will open him to more of these kinds of encounters and unfortunately with the culture that exists in hockey (professional and otherwise) no one will be respectful of his past condition. Ask Eric Lindros.

  32. Skating and puck handling skills should be centre of wining games. But today's hockey wining is 100 percent depend on roughing and how players able to better nail other players on boards. Hard hitting has become an acceptable norm of this game. No body cares. When participation rates were accounted for, the rate of concussion was highest in football and ice hockey. For all of our attention, recent studies have revealed that one concussion is risk factors for a second one and those who have sustained 3 or more concussions are 9 times more likely to have serious mental illness. These scientific findings obviously have serious implications for the rules of the game and our vulnerable players and therefore we need to take strong advocacy campaign against unruly behavior on ice. Fair play should obviously be replaced all these uncivilized behavior on ice. Remember that we are dealing with human bodies and sensitive brains.

  33. When I look at the replay, I see Crosby making a slight turn while looking back and away from Steckel who seems to be making a bee-line for another part of the ice or maybe the bench. While the hit does not look intentional, Steckel makes not effort (and he is not wearing blinders) to move any part of his body to avoid hitting Crosby. Yes, you have got to "keep your head up kid", but that should be when you are in possession of the puck. This was not the case in the Crosby hit. In professional hockey, it is all about winning and in the drive to win, the players very seldom demonstrate respect for one another's well-being. Hard fought battles for puck possession is one thing, what Steckel did is completely different. My fear is that this is the beginning of the end for Crosby's career as a hockey player. Will his team want to risk another concussion in the Olympics? His style, what makes him GREAT as a player, will open him to more of these kinds of encounters and unfortunately with the culture that exists in hockey (professional and otherwise) no one will be respectful of his past condition. Ask Eric Lindros.

  34. Skating and puck handling skills should be centre of wining games. But today's hockey wining is 100 percent depend on roughing and how players able to better nail other players on boards. Hard hitting has become an acceptable norm of this game. No body cares. When participation rates were accounted for, the rate of concussion was highest in football and ice hockey. For all of our attention, recent studies have revealed that one concussion is risk factors for a second one and those who have sustained 3 or more concussions are 9 times more likely to have serious mental illness. These scientific findings obviously have serious implications for the rules of the game and our vulnerable players and therefore we need to take strong advocacy campaign against unruly behavior on ice. Fair play should obviously be replaced all these uncivilized behavior on ice. Remember that we are dealing with human bodies and sensitive brains.

  35. Emily:
    You're almost right. Hockey, "as it is currently regulated" in the NHL "is" a barbaric sport. That's sad because the game is a beautiful one as shown at the international level (although even there the negative NHL influence is becoming more and more evident). Hockey played by a skilled, intelligent player eg. Daniel Alfredsohn or Sidney Crosby, is exciting to watch. As played by the meatheads it's dull and boring. When a player is so mediocre that the only way he can be a factor in a game is to smash into another player with his "head down" or by slashing or grappling or punching it's time for him to take up something else.
    Emily:
    I thought your comment about the pursuit of academics as an either or situation was shortsighted. There is room for athletic excellence as well as academic excellence. They aren't mutually exculsive and there are a lot of very smart and well educated people who enjoy playing and watching hockey.
    Emily: I haven't seen any evidence that Michael Ignatieff would be superior in any way to the current prime minister either on or off the ice.

  36. Emily:
    You're almost right. Hockey, "as it is currently regulated" in the NHL "is" a barbaric sport. That's sad because the game is a beautiful one as shown at the international level (although even there the negative NHL influence is becoming more and more evident). Hockey played by a skilled, intelligent player eg. Daniel Alfredsohn or Sidney Crosby, is exciting to watch. As played by the meatheads it's dull and boring. When a player is so mediocre that the only way he can be a factor in a game is to smash into another player with his "head down" or by slashing or grappling or punching it's time for him to take up something else.
    Emily:
    I thought your comment about the pursuit of academics as an either or situation was shortsighted. There is room for athletic excellence as well as academic excellence. They aren't mutually exculsive and there are a lot of very smart and well educated people who enjoy playing and watching hockey.
    Emily: I haven't seen any evidence that Michael Ignatieff would be superior in any way to the current prime minister either on or off the ice.

  37. Today I made a few critical remarks against an individual and a few sports stations that often promote the dirty part of hockey but Maclean's deleted it.Oh,Canada,don't name the blame!

  38. @ Keith; I'm convinced that Steckel intentionally hit Crosby because he (Steckel) didn't turn around to see who he had hit. He knew that Crosby didn't see him coming and he blindsided him, perhaps trying to make it look as if Crosby ran into him without looking where he was going. Crosby is one of the best at knowing where he is on the ice in relation to other players and Steckel caught him in one of those rare moments when he was defenceless.

  39. @ Keith; I'm convinced that Steckel intentionally hit Crosby because he (Steckel) didn't turn around to see who he had hit. He knew that Crosby didn't see him coming and he blindsided him, perhaps trying to make it look as if Crosby ran into him without looking where he was going. Crosby is one of the best at knowing where he is on the ice in relation to other players and Steckel caught him in one of those rare moments when he was defenceless.

  40. I used to love hockey as it was played in Canada. Played it for many years as a kid. Sure it's always been a rough and tumble game played on a very hard surface at high speeds with sticks and steel-hard rubber projectiles. But I stopped watching years ago when it became clear that the game was increasingly being played by mostly low-IQ goons who would be beating people up in bars and back alleys if they weren't playing hockey on teams owned by rich fat slobs who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. I would likely still be watching if it wasn't for all the armchair goons. You know, the ones who tell their kids to "kill him" and who beat up officials in minor league games when things don't go their way. Of course hockey does not have a copyright on gratuitous violence by marginal athletes. It's a testament to the fact that humans are still very much wild animals in spite of being able to count on their fingers.

  41. I used to love hockey as it was played in Canada. Played it for many years as a kid. Sure it's always been a rough and tumble game played on a very hard surface at high speeds with sticks and steel-hard rubber projectiles. But I stopped watching years ago when it became clear that the game was increasingly being played by mostly low-IQ goons who would be beating people up in bars and back alleys if they weren't playing hockey on teams owned by rich fat slobs who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. I would likely still be watching if it wasn't for all the armchair goons. You know, the ones who tell their kids to "kill him" and who beat up officials in minor league games when things don't go their way. Of course hockey does not have a copyright on gratuitous violence by marginal athletes. It's a testament to the fact that humans are still very much wild animals in spite of being able to count on their fingers.

    • I disagree Dan with your assessment that the game of hockey has been taken over by "low IQ goons" I was watching the skills competion at the allstar weekend and was impressed with how articulate the young players they interviewed were. Unfortunately, we still have general managers like Bobby Clarke who are willing to win at any cost. I remember watching a documentary about Eric Lindros and hearing his comment about "taking him out". These young men are at the mercy of the old boy's club and until it costs that club money to inflict injuries on opposing teams, they will never change their dirty play. Minor league has to run things the same way. You show disrespect, you are out. In games like tennis, you are not even allowed to coach during games. This just does not happen. There is zero tolerance for player/parent abuse of any official.

  42. Sadly what has deteriorated in the NHL is the officiating. There is not a game that goes by without stupid calls being made or missed. In Sydney's case, in both instances, not one penalty was called and yet if you touch someone with your stick or reach out with your hand, you are going to get a penalty. Ever notice that with a minute or two to go in a game and one team is leading by one score, you can bet on it that the team ahead is going to get a penalty. It almost seems that the officials want to control the outcome of the game. I see the same thing every game where they miss high sticking and other major penalties; how can four officials miss the same infractions. Sadly, there are too many teams in the NHL and everything has been watered down

  43. Sadly what has deteriorated in the NHL is the officiating. There is not a game that goes by without stupid calls being made or missed. In Sydney's case, in both instances, not one penalty was called and yet if you touch someone with your stick or reach out with your hand, you are going to get a penalty. Ever notice that with a minute or two to go in a game and one team is leading by one score, you can bet on it that the team ahead is going to get a penalty. It almost seems that the officials want to control the outcome of the game. I see the same thing every game where they miss high sticking and other major penalties; how can four officials miss the same infractions. Sadly, there are too many teams in the NHL and everything has been watered down

  44. Hockey is not at all barbaric, and anyone paying attention to the game knows it's not dominated by goons. It is a tough tough sport. Players get seriously hurt from all sorts dangerous conditions not at all related to illegal hits. Right now, there are many talented players not playing due to serious injuries other than a concussion. The game is super fast, the players are huge athletic machines who reach full speed in a few strides, and have to compete in a confined space. You also throw in sticks, frozen pucks flying over a hundred miles an hour, razor sharp skates, and super hard protective equipment. Players get seriously hurt because they are pro hockey players playing in a dangerous environment. You'd be hard-pressed to find a player second guessing their choice to play, and almost all of them don't complain, specially not in public (CoughCrosby), when they get hurt.

    Canadians dominate hockey because their brand of hockey balances skill with superior toughness. Take away the superior toughness and I'm sure all the same complainers will be shouting " whats wrong with our hockey today"!

  45. Hockey is not at all barbaric, and anyone paying attention to the game knows it's not dominated by goons. It is a tough tough sport. Players get seriously hurt from all sorts dangerous conditions not at all related to illegal hits. Right now, there are many talented players not playing due to serious injuries other than a concussion. The game is super fast, the players are huge athletic machines who reach full speed in a few strides, and have to compete in a confined space. You also throw in sticks, frozen pucks flying over a hundred miles an hour, razor sharp skates, and super hard protective equipment. Players get seriously hurt because they are pro hockey players playing in a dangerous environment. You'd be hard-pressed to find a player second guessing their choice to play, and almost all of them don't complain, specially not in public (CoughCrosby), when they get hurt.

    Canadians dominate hockey because their brand of hockey balances skill with superior toughness. Take away the superior toughness and I'm sure all the same complainers will be shouting " whats wrong with our hockey today"!

    • What you are saying is true about players getting injuries playing hockey, Robert but this article is about concussions. The truth is that clamping down on shots to the head and blind-siding would go a long way to greatly reducing the number of concussions in the sport of hockey. At the same time, it would do nothing to change the quality of the game. How do you accomplish it? You hit the owners and players where it hurts…..in there pocket books. You take out Sydney Crosby, the best player on our team – you forfit the best player on your team for the same amount of time he is out…Result: No more blind-siding; no more hits to the head. period.

      • How about this – if as a player you take another player out via a head shot (and concussion etc) then you are out for the same length of time he is out AND your team pays the injured player's salary. Of course you do not get paid, either! What do you think of that as a penalty for stupid actions on the ice.

    • One thing Robert is right about is the super hard equipment. There is no need for hard plastic caps on elbow pads (some of which come to a rounded point) for example. Hockey players don't need football shoulder pads either. They also, need to be taught to use angles to cut off space and to hit shoulder to body, not shoulder, elbow or forearm to the head. In the Steckle hit it was clearly interference if nothing else, but officials seem to see and call what they feel like when they feel like it rather than consistently enforcing the rules. Sort of like the league and supplementary discipline.

    • By the replies from your comments I see a change in how people see the game of hockey. You're in the minority now,
      Your "Don Cherry way of thinking" fans are fading fast. Make way for the new fans of hockey, the ones who care for the game.and not the sideshows. No matter how much or how loud you bark, it's happening, whether you like it or not,
      and there's nothing you can do about it. It's called evolution.

  46. The legalized assaults that take place in hockey today is like the gladiator sports of Roman times. It has spoiled my enjoyment of watching what should be a game of skill, not just on a pair of blades, but of finesse, reading angles, predicting other p;ayers movements. We can only shudder at the cost to these young athletes as they age and develop dementias, etc. What a pity the audiences love the knock em sock em aspect with no thought to the future health of these fine people!

  47. I hope that I'm wrong, but when I saw the replay on tape several times I believe that it was intentional. I also note that the hit began with the forearm, then elbow, then shoulder. Steckel is a huge man, and it would have been a killer collision even if Crosby had seen him coming.

    I was a lacross player in my younger days, so physical contact is not a four letter word to me. My opinion is that the David Steckels of the NHL should be purged. He is not the only one that plays to injure others. And while we're at it, we had better get rid of the two or three coaches and GMs that put organizational pressure on goons to level the playing field. Mark Crawford is one such head coach (play on words there, head coach).

  48. Patrick, I certainly hope you would encourage any youngster or adult to wear a helmet biking. Just the simple fall off the bike can create a life long head injury or death. You don't have to run into a tree tobogganing to get injured. How about falling off and getting your head banged up on the hard snow or another person hitting you or the list could go on. How many people are presently in the health system because of preventable injuries?. Times change and we get smarter hopefully and thats why most ski hills require helmets. Please don't criticize a person or family for wanting to protect themselves even though it may not seem cool to you. Remember when smoking ,not wearing a seat belt, drinking and driving or texting while driving was cool??

  49. The tone of your post Robert suggests that you may in fact be a survivor of several concussions yourself. Criminal intent is one thing that can and should be surgically removed from professional sport, unless you're talking about cage fighting maybe.

    My vote is to preserve talent and skillful play in professional hockey by curbing the kind of hostility that was unleashed on Crosby. There is no way that anyone can rationalize the Steckel incident as inspirational competition. Get rid of him, and his coach.

  50. Well Hal, if you closely review my tone, it suggest that players need to take some responsibility to ensure they don't put themselves in harms way. That tone seems to be echoed by the pro players themselves.

    "Criminal intent" and "surgically remove" seems a little extreme/hostile? You could always watch another sport, or just watch some kids play!

    My vote is to preserve talent, and skillful play in the extreme conditions of professional hockey. Anything less is recreational.

    Yes, Ive had 3 concussions. One related to sport.

  51. Brain injuries are not limited to players. Just look at Daryl Sutter or Gary Bettman

  52. Brain injuries are not limited to players. Just look at Daryl Sutter or Gary Bettman

  53. Interesting, if Crosby handn't been injured on that play, Robert would probably be saying: " I love his go- for-it spirit!" Blame the victim?

  54. It all started with the hall of famer who played for the new jersey devils when he hit lindros. every one said it was a clean hit. i never saw him give aclean hit always a dirty elbow or shoulder to the head the league should have clamped down right away. its the old storie of locking the barn door after the animals are gone

  55. It all started with the hall of famer who played for the new jersey devils when he hit lindros. every one said it was a clean hit. i never saw him give aclean hit always a dirty elbow or shoulder to the head the league should have clamped down right away. its the old storie of locking the barn door after the animals are gone

    • absolutely right on. stevens was as dirty as the come.

    • All of Stevens' hits were heavy, but not all of them were dirty. And, lest we forget, Lindros' first (or second?) concussion was via the shoulder of Darius Kasparitis.

  56. Oh thats right, there was an accusation of criminal intent, so why not make the leap to suggest I'm "blaming the victim".

    Again, kids hockey probably has everything you're looking for.

  57. There is an unfortunate clash between those in the league who want fighting. Also, they allow crashing from behind which is charging from great distances. That is not hockey. Clean hits are part of the game. It is the fault of those in charge of the league. It is in danger of becoming roller derby on skates. Imagine, but it is very true, that Canadians and Americans and those in Europe really enjoy watching the Olympics and European hockey. The NHL has allowed our game to become low class and few Americans have time for it because it is no longer a game of skill and talent. Goons prevail and are encouraged by management and the directors. Too bad, it was at one time a wonderful sport but it has been allowed to decay before our eyes. What a shame!

  58. There is an unfortunate clash between those in the league who want fighting. Also, they allow crashing from behind which is charging from great distances. That is not hockey. Clean hits are part of the game. It is the fault of those in charge of the league. It is in danger of becoming roller derby on skates. Imagine, but it is very true, that Canadians and Americans and those in Europe really enjoy watching the Olympics and European hockey. The NHL has allowed our game to become low class and few Americans have time for it because it is no longer a game of skill and talent. Goons prevail and are encouraged by management and the directors. Too bad, it was at one time a wonderful sport but it has been allowed to decay before our eyes. What a shame!

  59. I just have to ask about your concussions, Robert. How does a guy who is always keeping himself out of harms way end up with 3 concussions?

  60. Robert Reid, give Robert Van Eyk a break – he has had multiple concussions….

  61. Patrick, did you ever see a documentary that the CBC I think it was did on that Canadian wrestler Chris Benoit and the Edmonton Eskimos Football team from the 1970's. Fascinating story about what multiple concussions and hits to the head do to a person's brain.

  62. Emily, I am sure even Michael Ignatieff likes Sidney Crosby and enjoyed watching the US and Canada play for the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics. Have you ever heard of Dr. Randy Gregg, a physician who played for the Edmonton Oilers. Do you have any idea how many children go to universities on hockey scholarships? Even Harvard has a hockey team!

  63. Concussions aren't limited to hockey as more than a few can attest that head injuries can devastate anyone who's head makes an impact with another object. Sometimes the loss is immediate, such as hearing.
    The lesson has to include proper recovery. The days off of sucking it up or shaking it off are coming to an end not because we're weak but because we're hopefully more aware of what's at stake.
    Sometimes what you lose, you don't get back. You do however have to live with it.

  64. Concussions aren't limited to hockey as more than a few can attest that head injuries can devastate anyone who's head makes an impact with another object. Sometimes the loss is immediate, such as hearing.
    The lesson has to include proper recovery. The days off of sucking it up or shaking it off are coming to an end not because we're weak but because we're hopefully more aware of what's at stake.
    Sometimes what you lose, you don't get back. You do however have to live with it.

  65. What you are saying is true about players getting injuries playing hockey, Robert but this article is about concussions. The truth is that clamping down on shots to the head and blind-siding would go a long way to greatly reducing the number of concussions in the sport of hockey. At the same time, it would do nothing to change the quality of the game. How do you accomplish it? You hit the owners and players where it hurts…..in there pocket books. You take out Sydney Crosby, the best player on our team – you forfit the best player on your team for the same amount of time he is out…Result: No more blind-siding; no more hits to the head. period.

  66. Patrick! Aaah! My gut response is to beg you to assure me that you are not a parent……

    Don't you remember Natasha Richardson that actress that fell and hit her head on the bunny hill while learning to ski on Mont Tremblant and then died of her head injury. She didn't wear a helmet either even though it is now common practice for people to wear helmets.

  67. Mary makes a really good point.The insertion of GOONS such as "steckel" has indeed transformed pro hockey
    into something such as 'kick boxing'.When the masterminds who control ice hockey (owners.coaches etc.)
    are prevented from promoting barbarianism on the ice, the goons hopefully will be weeded out,so we can get
    back to the real game.It seems every NHL team maintains one or more 'goons' on the bench.What a pity for a
    society referred to as the 'human race'.

  68. What? Was he supposed to suddenly grow eyes in the back of his head? I played all kinds of sports growing up and I know two things: it's possible to check and tackle without hitting or leading with the head (even big -me- on small) and if you hit someone in the head it is no accident, you mean it. Just look how quickly head-first hits subsided in the NFL this year when they started suspending people. Not hitting the head doesn't reduce collisions, it just redirects them to parts of the body that are better able to withstand them (often with crowd pleasing effect – John Elway's helicopter touchdown in the Super Bowl for example).

  69. Canadians like violent hockey. If tastes change, so will the game; it could be cleaned up quickly if we cared about it.

  70. Canadians like violent hockey. If tastes change, so will the game; it could be cleaned up quickly if we cared about it.

    • Canadians no longer have much control over the game. There are no teams in Quebec City, Winnipeg, Hamilton and other Canadian prime candidates for a franchise. Meanwhile Atlanta now has it's second team as does Minnesota. I know it will never happen but, if there were fewer teams, particularly in cities that don't care about hockey there could be less games and each one would have some meaning. When the game is played on an Olympic sized rink there is room to allow great players to show their skills. The fast, skilled, six foot three, two hundred twenty pound players of today have outgrown our rinks. Wouldn't it be great to if Bettman quit trying to sell hockey to Americans in the deep south where there is no history of the game? What if a league led by the NHL banded together with other hockey loving nations to play an interlocking schedule with Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Czech, Slovak, etc, etc cities.

      Sorry for being off topic here. I'm just dreaming.

  71. One thing Robert is right about is the super hard equipment. There is no need for hard plastic caps on elbow pads (some of which come to a rounded point) for example. Hockey players don't need football shoulder pads either. They also, need to be taught to use angles to cut off space and to hit shoulder to body, not shoulder, elbow or forearm to the head. In the Steckle hit it was clearly interference if nothing else, but officials seem to see and call what they feel like when they feel like it rather than consistently enforcing the rules. Sort of like the league and supplementary discipline.

  72. I disagree Dan with your assessment that the game of hockey has been taken over by "low IQ goons" I was watching the skills competion at the allstar weekend and was impressed with how articulate the young players they interviewed were. Unfortunately, we still have general managers like Bobby Clarke who are willing to win at any cost. I remember watching a documentary about Eric Lindros and hearing his comment about "taking him out". These young men are at the mercy of the old boy's club and until it costs that club money to inflict injuries on opposing teams, they will never change their dirty play. Minor league has to run things the same way. You show disrespect, you are out. In games like tennis, you are not even allowed to coach during games. This just does not happen. There is zero tolerance for player/parent abuse of any official.

  73. Having played football at high school level and hockey at high school and university level I can say football hits are worse . It's something to do with the feet planted. I had many hits to the head and at 57 yrs feel dinged.

  74. Having played football at high school level and hockey at high school and university level I can say football hits are worse . It's something to do with the feet planted. I had many hits to the head and at 57 yrs feel dinged.

  75. My dear Emily, I feel very sympathetic toward you. Have you recently been in an accident? Suffered a blow to the head from a fall? Been beaten by a Neo-Con? If these muddled thoughts are what came to you after contemplating this article I fear you too may be suffering from brain trauma. Even hockey hating liberals might agree that you should have yourself checked.

  76. Canadians no longer have much control over the game. There are no teams in Quebec City, Winnipeg, Hamilton and other Canadian prime candidates for a franchise. Meanwhile Atlanta now has it's second team as does Minnesota. I know it will never happen but, if there were fewer teams, particularly in cities that don't care about hockey there could be less games and each one would have some meaning. When the game is played on an Olympic sized rink there is room to allow great players to show their skills. The fast, skilled, six foot three, two hundred twenty pound players of today have outgrown our rinks. Wouldn't it be great to if Bettman quit trying to sell hockey to Americans in the deep south where there is no history of the game? What if a league led by the NHL banded together with other hockey loving nations to play an interlocking schedule with Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Czech, Slovak, etc, etc cities.

    Sorry for being off topic here. I'm just dreaming.

  77. We should ask Donna Cherry what he thinks about this. Maybe he'll explain that head shots are integral to playing hockey and that concussions are manly. Yes, regardless of how utterly stupid fighting and head shots are in this sport there will always be someone willing to defend it. BTW, I love hockey. I just don't think it's necessary to concuss your opponent or knock his teeth out.

  78. We should ask Donna Cherry what he thinks about this. Maybe he'll explain that head shots are integral to playing hockey and that concussions are manly. Yes, regardless of how utterly stupid fighting and head shots are in this sport there will always be someone willing to defend it. BTW, I love hockey. I just don't think it's necessary to concuss your opponent or knock his teeth out.

  79. What's next? Wear a helmet while snow shoveling, or running, or walking down the street? What did people do on snowy hills before helmets? I learned to ride a bike without a helmet. There are limits to how "safe" you can be. The important thing is to be alert and be smart. Remember that the next time you hop on the 401 and speed up to 120 KM per hour. It's not solely the activity.

  80. Esteban – no one is suggesting you wear a helmet doing activities that statistically do not result in head injuries. However, bike riding is an activity that statistics tell us is likely to result in injuries to the head. That is why the government makes it mandatory for children to wear helmets until they are 18 years of age.

    As all decisions we make in life are based on our assessment of the risk/benefit of each course of action we take…exactly what is the risk of wearing a helmet while you ride a bike? It is the financial cost of wearing the helmet that outweighs of the benefit that the helmet provides in terms of safety?

  81. When will they ever learn????….watched our young neighbor spend 4 months trying to get over concussions from professional hockey….his promising career over… he is now in Real Estate. It was painful to watch.

  82. When will they ever learn????….watched our young neighbor spend 4 months trying to get over concussions from professional hockey….his promising career over… he is now in Real Estate. It was painful to watch.

  83. How about this – if as a player you take another player out via a head shot (and concussion etc) then you are out for the same length of time he is out AND your team pays the injured player's salary. Of course you do not get paid, either! What do you think of that as a penalty for stupid actions on the ice.

  84. One more potent argument in favour of making hockey look less like roller derby and more like a game of individual skill and team manoeuvres.

  85. One more potent argument in favour of making hockey look less like roller derby and more like a game of individual skill and team manoeuvres.

  86. First of all I LOVE HOCKEY. Probably for a lot of the same reasons you do. (skill speed, stamina, rough, tough, hard hitting, definitely not a game for wimps). I do like watching the top, skilled players displaying their skills and Crosby is an elite among the elite (just like Gretzky was). I never liked Gretzky (I was a Jets fan) but I sure liked to watch him play (same with Crosby but now I'm a Canucks fan). We don't "need" Crosby in the lineup to enjoy the game but we do need skilled, talented players to enjoy watching the game otherwise "go watch kids play" [ no offence moms and dads]. You somehow insinuate Crosby's concussion was his own fault for not "playing with caution". Crosby was turning up ice following the puck (like everyone else on the ice). I don't know if you've ever played hockey but once the play has left the zone and the puck is long gone you don't expect to get hit from behind. If you watch the "hit" and the seconds that preceded it, it is easy to tell that Steckel could have avoided hitting Crosby. Some people say "maybe he didn't see Crosby" but I find that difficult to believe. Steckel too should have been a little more aware and played with a little more "caution". My guess (no matter how much we debate only Steckel knows for sure) is that Steckel's intention was not to give Crosby a concussion but, seeing that everyone else was already watching up ice, try to intimidate Crosby by giving him a little "shot" while no one was watching (Tiger Williams used to pull that trick all the time). Its a good way to irritate the guy and try to get him off his game. But I think you are missing the point of the whole article. As your dim witted analysis of the issue proves, (sorry, couldn't resist!) concussions whether to Crosby or any one else are serious issue and should not be lost in who's not looking or who's tough or a wimpy whiner. Player need to take a look at how they play the game and how they hit the other player. The hit on Crosby was not a necessary hit in terms of of what was happening on the ice (he didn't have the puck or wasn't about to get the puck) and could have been avoided. There is an instant penalty given whenever a player gets hit with a high stick, intentional or not. It has made the players be more aware of how they carry their stick and made them a little more cautious with it.. I believe that the NHL should institute the same kind of automatic penalty for head hits, whether intentional or not. Then, if the hit is intentional (VERY hard to prove), give a suspension. If a concussion occurs then the offending player should be suspended (whether the hit was intentional or not) for the duration that the concussed player is out. That would definitely not take the hitting out of the game but it would make the players be more aware and use more "caution" as to "how" they hit another player. I don't get any pleasure out of seeing people injured and careers or quality of life jeopardized and don't think most hockey lovers (or players) do.

  87. http://www.mahercorlabs.com/pdf/Dental_Traumatolo

    The study link above was published in the referring joural of the Academy of Sports Dentistry, most NHL dentists look to this group for new innovative approaches. Team dentists from the Black hawks, Bruins, Sharks, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Captitals, Kings, have been trained in this protocol, yet PHATS, the NHL trainers group has not been brought into the loop. N.E. Patriots trainers use this protocol to address the dings and mtbi, helmets can't protect the face/jaw. Loyds of London agents, W.J. Sutton have been informed of this and have showed interest. Crosby and Savard clearly were struck in the jaw/chin to initiate their slide, the contracts of these players are insured, you would think these insurers would mandate such a level of protection in their customer base. The NHL and NFL are to mired in politics between owners and players to do so, to do the right thing. <a href="http://www.mahercor.comn” target=”_blank”>www.mahercor.comn

  88. http://www.mahercorlabs.com/pdf/Dental_Traumatolo

    The study link above was published in the referring joural of the Academy of Sports Dentistry, most NHL dentists look to this group for new innovative approaches. Team dentists from the Black hawks, Bruins, Sharks, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Captitals, Kings, have been trained in this protocol, yet PHATS, the NHL trainers group has not been brought into the loop. N.E. Patriots trainers use this protocol to address the dings and mtbi, helmets can't protect the face/jaw. Loyds of London agents, W.J. Sutton have been informed of this and have showed interest. Crosby and Savard clearly were struck in the jaw/chin to initiate their slide, the contracts of these players are insured, you would think these insurers would mandate such a level of protection in their customer base. The NHL and NFL are to mired in politics between owners and players to do so, to do the right thing. http://www.mahercor.comn

  89. I can remember when Gordie Howe was one of the biggest players, physically, in the NHL, at 6 ft., 210 lbs. He would be dwarfed now, by many of the current players, some of whom are 6'6" to 6'9" and weigh up to 260 lbs. The current players are also so much faster and wear elbow and shoulder pads that are as hard as rocks. I firmly believe that
    we will continue to see more and more concussions in the NHL, regardless of what measures are taken. because of the speed and the size of the players. It only takes a couple of devastating hits to the head, intentional or otherwise, to affect the future career of a superstar like Crosby or any other player.. NHL hockey is what it is, a very exciting
    game that can be career ending because of concussions.

  90. I can remember when Gordie Howe was one of the biggest players, physically, in the NHL, at 6 ft., 210 lbs. He would be dwarfed now, by many of the current players, some of whom are 6'6" to 6'9" and weigh up to 260 lbs. The current players are also so much faster and wear elbow and shoulder pads that are as hard as rocks. I firmly believe that
    we will continue to see more and more concussions in the NHL, regardless of what measures are taken. because of the speed and the size of the players. It only takes a couple of devastating hits to the head, intentional or otherwise, to affect the future career of a superstar like Crosby or any other player.. NHL hockey is what it is, a very exciting
    game that can be career ending because of concussions.

  91. The injuries inflicted by the "Goons", could be limited by suspending the offending player for an equivalent amount of time as the person sustaining the injury is off the ice. In addition, the "Club" that harbors the Goon, should be fined something like the annual salary of the "Goon", and have the fine taken from the allowable salary cap. Bet it would cause a massive and complete cleanup of the Head-Shot syndrome!!

    Terry

  92. The injuries inflicted by the "Goons", could be limited by suspending the offending player for an equivalent amount of time as the person sustaining the injury is off the ice. In addition, the "Club" that harbors the Goon, should be fined something like the annual salary of the "Goon", and have the fine taken from the allowable salary cap. Bet it would cause a massive and complete cleanup of the Head-Shot syndrome!!

    Terry

  93. All I know is that hockey players make a lot of money, too much. Here's hoping they are smart to invest it wisely when they do have to retire early because of injuries. At least they can afford the treatments, medical/physio, etc. to follow the injuries. Many Canadians can't even afford to play hockey let alone get the best medical treatment.

  94. All I know is that hockey players make a lot of money, too much. Here's hoping they are smart to invest it wisely when they do have to retire early because of injuries. At least they can afford the treatments, medical/physio, etc. to follow the injuries. Many Canadians can't even afford to play hockey let alone get the best medical treatment.

  95. steckel knew what he was doing – crosby didnt have puck and had his back to steckel who was skating up ice with peripheral visiion – nhl wake up – you need skill players like crosby to sell the game in the US.

    REAL QUESTION IS WHO HAS THEIR HEAD DOWN (IN THE SAND)? ANSWER – NHL.

    VERY SAD – really hope Sid makes a full recovery and that nhl brings in a zero tolerance for any kind of hit to the hit (major suspension and fine – that'll clean up the game and make it exciting and fun again.

  96. steckel knew what he was doing – crosby didnt have puck and had his back to steckel who was skating up ice with peripheral visiion – nhl wake up – you need skill players like crosby to sell the game in the US.

    REAL QUESTION IS WHO HAS THEIR HEAD DOWN (IN THE SAND)? ANSWER – NHL.

    VERY SAD – really hope Sid makes a full recovery and that nhl brings in a zero tolerance for any kind of hit to the hit (major suspension and fine – that'll clean up the game and make it exciting and fun again.

  97. Eric Lindros was once hailed as "The Next Gretzky," but a series of fourth-degree concussions shortened his career, and he never lived up to his potential. Granted, Lindros gave as good as he got. He was more of a throwback to Gordie Howe, who many considered to be one of the dirtiest players ever, rather than a finesse player like Gretzky. However, the NHL needs to clamp down on the cheap shots and the boarding. It is nothing less than a miracle that somebody besides Bill Masterton hasn't been killed on the ice. Can you imagine what would have happened to Sidney Crosby if David Steckel had hit him in a time before players wore helmets? Hockey players are bigger, stronger and faster than they have ever been, and they are in better physical condition than they were in the past. Maybe the NHL should consider instituting a "no check" rule, by which I mean a player may only take one step before hitting an opposing player. Hockey would still be a rough and even violent sport, and injuries like fourth-degree concussions would still occur, but the human body can only take so much punishment. In the meantime, kids, keep your heads up, if you don't want to end up in the emergency room.

  98. Eric Lindros was once hailed as "The Next Gretzky," but a series of fourth-degree concussions shortened his career, and he never lived up to his potential. Granted, Lindros gave as good as he got. He was more of a throwback to Gordie Howe, who many considered to be one of the dirtiest players ever, rather than a finesse player like Gretzky. However, the NHL needs to clamp down on the cheap shots and the boarding. It is nothing less than a miracle that somebody besides Bill Masterton hasn't been killed on the ice. Can you imagine what would have happened to Sidney Crosby if David Steckel had hit him in a time before players wore helmets? Hockey players are bigger, stronger and faster than they have ever been, and they are in better physical condition than they were in the past. Maybe the NHL should consider instituting a "no check" rule, by which I mean a player may only take one step before hitting an opposing player. Hockey would still be a rough and even violent sport, and injuries like fourth-degree concussions would still occur, but the human body can only take so much punishment. In the meantime, kids, keep your heads up, if you don't want to end up in the emergency room.

  99. It might be nice to deliver a hard body check, Gerald, but have you never had the dream of scoring the winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in overtime? Even though Paul Henderson undoubtedly delivered a lot of checks, I'm sure that his winning goal against the Russians for Team Canada in 1972 was his sweetest memory in hockey.

  100. I stopped being a fan of the Detroit Redwings when the Wings signed Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks, who, you may recall, nailed Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche and broke a few vertebrae in Moore's neck, ending his career. Granted, Bertuzzi is talented player, but he is also a thug who should have been banned for life. When a player decides to take a cheap shot at another player, he has made a decision to hurt or injure another player. That decision says a lot about a player's personal ethics, only it doesn't say anything good.

  101. Clearly you know nothing about the sport so should stfu cause you sound like the idiot you most likely are.
    Crosby is the best in this game in a long time & what happened to him was the result of this disgusting league letting more & more goons & no use talentless animals in & calling them hockey players, something needs to be done fast or the NHL will nothing more than a joke, as you are.

  102. till you've seen it happen to someone in normal life who is never the same again, then maybe you'd change your mind about the general public who might get one or two in a lifetime.

    I used to work as a rehab RN with brain injury, and believe me it isn't all hockey and football players. Then I saw it happen to an old friend of mine. He and his wife had their nice normal life yanked out from under them forever. He has had an unusual amount of damage from a relatively light concussion, and he has been disabled by it. He falls a lot now, can't be left alone for fear of accidents or leaving a stove burner on,. can't hold down a job, and has memory problems. He used to be a hard worker, primary breadwinner as a computer programmer till a "minor" concussion in a minor car accident.

    More research is needed to figure out why some get hurt worse than others. Meanwhile don't discount this as journalistic exaggeration.

  103. The clowns running the show will continue to 'examine' every incident, and try twenty ways 'til Sunday to find any excuse to keep even the worst, most notorious of the perps either on the ice, or get them back ASAP. I wish that I could say that it was laughable, but……
    I just can't fathom how keeping these guys around without any repercussions whatsoever benefits anybody. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a clean, hard check, but these whines of 'innocence' after a player tries to destroy the boards with their intended target employed as the butt end of the battering ram long ago became hard to stomach,

  104. The clowns running the show will continue to 'examine' every incident, and try twenty ways 'til Sunday to find any excuse to keep even the worst, most notorious of the perps either on the ice, or get them back ASAP. I wish that I could say that it was laughable, but……
    I just can't fathom how keeping these guys around without any repercussions whatsoever benefits anybody. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a clean, hard check, but these whines of 'innocence' after a player tries to destroy the boards with their intended target employed as the butt end of the battering ram long ago became hard to stomach,

  105. Absolutely.

  106. Not all concussions come from sports injuries. When I was young my father would smash my head against the wall, a concrete floor, his fist, anything that was handy. As I read more and more about concussion syndrome, I notice that I have many of the symptoms mentioned. I have suffered from life long depression, inability to focus on a task and stay with it. As my dad used to say, you never finish anything you start. There should be more study into the effects of violence to Childred. In my generation, there was no help for us, we just got up and gout knocked down again.

  107. So the ends justify the means? Unless I missed something while I watched that series, I don't recall any of Henderson's checks being even remotely close to what we're talking about today. What more relates to the discussion today is more along the lines of Kharlamov''s vicious, intentional slash to Clarke's ankle (though it couldn't have happened to a 'nicer' guy). That sort of a mentality is far too much in evidence in the NHL these days. Campbell is obviously singing to someone elses' tune.

  108. Not all concussions come from sports injuries. When I was young my father would smash my head against the wall, a concrete floor, his fist, anything that was handy. As I read more and more about concussion syndrome, I notice that I have many of the symptoms mentioned. I have suffered from life long depression, inability to focus on a task and stay with it. As my dad used to say, you never finish anything you start. There should be more study into the effects of violence to Childred. In my generation, there was no help for us, we just got up and gout knocked down again.

  109. These injuries are a direct result of a 'win-at-any-cost' attitude that permeates not only professional sports but society as a whole. This mentality wrecks minor sports for kids (most of whom drop out as teenagers), puts unnecessary pressure on students and poisons workplaces.

  110. These injuries are a direct result of a 'win-at-any-cost' attitude that permeates not only professional sports but society as a whole. This mentality wrecks minor sports for kids (most of whom drop out as teenagers), puts unnecessary pressure on students and poisons workplaces.

  111. Excellent article on concussions. Well done!

  112. Excellent article on concussions. Well done!

  113. absolutely right on. stevens was as dirty as the come.

  114. Anyone who has played competitive soccer knows it is not low impact.

  115. ROFL. Yep, every hockey player votes Conservative. Even the females. Therefore, hockey should be banned. /sarc

  116. I played minor hockey from Novice 'A' through 'AAA' (Major) Midget. Thankfully, I never endured a concussion, though I did receive and give my share of hits, as one might expect at the major levels.

    The fundamental problem behind the majority of concussions, as I see it, is a lack of respect for the other player. As soon as matters turn competitive, opposing players are considered enemies worthy to be felled. Though I refused to accept this point of view due to the wise words of my father, I heard this mantra repeated over and over by coaches and other parents.

    A correlated problem is training on the purpose of body contact. Checking is intended to take the player off the puck so that you can gain control of it and switch from defense to offense. Too often, players are encouraged to incapacitate the player primarily and capture the puck secondarily, which often results in improper technique and injury.

    The speed of the game and the split-second changes in a player's physical profile are a factor too, but I see them as the truly infrequent. Sometimes what is lined up to be a clean solid hit turns into an injury or concussion because a player loses his balance or ducks or turns at the last second. There's no way to avoid those unfortunate scenarios and it would be ruinous to the game to try and do so.

    Most concussions occur when the giving player cracks the receiving player as hard as possible so as to permanently remove them from the puck. This can be drastically reduced with proper training on hitting and proper respect for the opposing players.

  117. I played minor hockey from Novice 'A' through 'AAA' (Major) Midget. Thankfully, I never endured a concussion, though I did receive and give my share of hits, as one might expect at the major levels.

    The fundamental problem behind the majority of concussions, as I see it, is a lack of respect for the other player. As soon as matters turn competitive, opposing players are considered enemies worthy to be felled. Though I refused to accept this point of view due to the wise words of my father, I heard this mantra repeated over and over by coaches and other parents.

    A correlated problem is training on the purpose of body contact. Checking is intended to take the player off the puck so that you can gain control of it and switch from defense to offense. Too often, players are encouraged to incapacitate the player primarily and capture the puck secondarily, which often results in improper technique and injury.

    The speed of the game and the split-second changes in a player's physical profile are a factor too, but I see them as the truly infrequent. Sometimes what is lined up to be a clean solid hit turns into an injury or concussion because a player loses his balance or ducks or turns at the last second. There's no way to avoid those unfortunate scenarios and it would be ruinous to the game to try and do so.

    Most concussions occur when the giving player cracks the receiving player as hard as possible so as to permanently remove them from the puck. This can be drastically reduced with proper training on hitting and proper respect for the opposing players.

    • Well thought out comments, Mark……there is a big difference in the main purpose of checking i.e. either to gain possession of the puck and start an offensive play (good) and simply hurting the other player, obviously bad but much too common. And yes Macleans it was a very good article.

  118. All of Stevens' hits were heavy, but not all of them were dirty. And, lest we forget, Lindros' first (or second?) concussion was via the shoulder of Darius Kasparitis.

  119. Oh, and I just wanted to say, FANTASTIC article, Macleans. Very well done.

  120. Oh, and I just wanted to say, FANTASTIC article, Macleans. Very well done.

  121. You know, face masks and visors that protect your jaw have been around for a few decades.
    But I for one am glad you decided to fill your orthodontist's pockets with a few thousand dollars, and experience quite a bit of pain, instead of investing a couple bucks in some protective polycarbonate.

  122. Well thought out comments, Mark……there is a big difference in the main purpose of checking i.e. either to gain possession of the puck and start an offensive play (good) and simply hurting the other player, obviously bad but much too common. And yes Macleans it was a very good article.

  123. Well K.,You've missed the point ,or,if you please,the net,by at least two miles.(Sid,was wearing the best of gear).

    Oh ya,I've been aroun for seven decades.

    Quite interesting,that you are 'glad' that I suffered quite a bit of pain.Don boy will love you for this.

  124. There is nothing hysterical about an epidemic. For years, professionals in the know, have referred to the enormous number of brain injuries as "the silent epidemic'. Unfortunately there are not enough professionals 'in the know'. Lets commit to distributing the information in Cathy Gulli's article to broaden the understanding and to doing our best to reduce the frequency of brain injury. Recently, many more of us, professional and otherwise, are 'in the know'.

  125. There is nothing hysterical about an epidemic. For years, professionals in the know, have referred to the enormous number of brain injuries as "the silent epidemic'. Unfortunately there are not enough professionals 'in the know'. Lets commit to distributing the information in Cathy Gulli's article to broaden the understanding and to doing our best to reduce the frequency of brain injury. Recently, many more of us, professional and otherwise, are 'in the know'.

  126. Actually, I'm starting to believe several people hide under the alias "Emily": there's one real Emily, and then some trolls just use her alias to spawn controversy. Indeed, had it been her, she certainly would've replied, and more than once at that.

  127. Thank you for this article. I suffered a concussion 3 weeks ago due

    to a fall at work. I have felt so frustrated by the inability to do what most

    people consider to be simple tasks without being plagued by headaches,

    nausea, dizziness and exhaustion. TV and computer use is very limited.

    My other symptoms are forgetfulness, inability to have a conversation for

    more then a few minutes, zoning out, irritability, and anxiety. As well as all the

    physical pain from an injury.

    We as a society need to change our way of thinking regarding concussion.

    It’s not three days of rest and shake it off. It’s a long road to recovery.

  128. Thank you for this article. I suffered a concussion 3 weeks ago due
    to a fall at work. I have felt so frustrated by the inability to do what most
    people consider to be simple tasks without being plagued by headaches,
    nausea, dizziness and exhaustion. TV and computer use is very limited.
    My other symptoms are forgetfulness, inability to have a conversation for
    more then a few minutes, zoning out, irritability, and anxiety. As well as all the
    physical pain from an injury.
    We as a society need to change our way of thinking regarding concussion.
    It’s not three days of rest and shake it off. It’s a long road to recovery.

  129. It's interesting that you delight in other's pain,and it seems that this is as far asyour 'brain; developed.

  130. The game of hockey has changed so much in the past 25 years. The players are bigger, stronger and faster than they were in the game of the 80's. The game moves so fast now that the rink appears so much smaller than before, hence there appears to be less room to move around at these speeds. One solution (if rink owners, club owners, the NHLPA and other assorted NHL officials would agree to) is to remove one row of seats from around the rink so that the rink is larger (as in European hockey rinks). This would give the more gifted skaters more room to move around the rink. You would still have to "keep your head up kid", but it would open up the game and I believe, would make the game more interesting.

  131. The game of hockey has changed so much in the past 25 years. The players are bigger, stronger and faster than they were in the game of the 80's. The game moves so fast now that the rink appears so much smaller than before, hence there appears to be less room to move around at these speeds. One solution (if rink owners, club owners, the NHLPA and other assorted NHL officials would agree to) is to remove one row of seats from around the rink so that the rink is larger (as in European hockey rinks). This would give the more gifted skaters more room to move around the rink. You would still have to "keep your head up kid", but it would open up the game and I believe, would make the game more interesting.

  132. The article was an eye-opener and definitely geared to the male hockey/sports crowd. But, there are many activities and sports where falling or impact to the head seemingly causes concussions. Just how much protection does an appropriate helmet offer? Not much, or it depends. In the horse back riding world, young people are encouraged to wear helmets riding and/or just around horses, all the time. I think the injury rate is much lower, than say professional hockey. But, a 1000 lb horse going 45 mph (racing) or show jumping, or that fluke fall off a dressage horse can cause concussions also. So, what do we actually watch out for? Any potential blow to the head? Good discussion. Thanks.

  133. The article was an eye-opener and definitely geared to the male hockey/sports crowd. But, there are many activities and sports where falling or impact to the head seemingly causes concussions. Just how much protection does an appropriate helmet offer? Not much, or it depends. In the horse back riding world, young people are encouraged to wear helmets riding and/or just around horses, all the time. I think the injury rate is much lower, than say professional hockey. But, a 1000 lb horse going 45 mph (racing) or show jumping, or that fluke fall off a dressage horse can cause concussions also. So, what do we actually watch out for? Any potential blow to the head? Good discussion. Thanks.

  134. Yes, he has. Stecks is a full half foot taller than Sid, that's why Sid bore the brunt of the impact.

    It was not a deliberate hit, clean or dirty, just 2 players colliding in the heat of the game.

  135. My son's age group started body contact at age 8yrs as part of pilot project from Hockey Canada. Presently contact in hockey starts at 11yrs.
    In our case by Peewee Major he had a least one bad concussion and possibly other minor ones so we told him he had to quit. He was devastated. Luckily he doesn't seem to have long term affects.
    I joined my hockey association's board to implement Concussion protocol using Impact Test. It's been a long road trying to convince parents/coaches that these injuries our kids are getting are serious. Even Hockey Canada and the OMHA won't implement more protocol when it comes to kids getting concussions because they feel they can't rely on 'grassroots' volunteers. More awareness is needed and more education for coaches and trainers in body contact sports.

  136. Look lets face it it's not only the hits, look at the equiment that is being used today ,shoulder pads, & elbow pads made of hard plastic it's like you are wearing steel armour. What happened to the thick padding we used to wear it protected me well, Just think… Boxers wearing hard plastic gloves in the boxing ring EXAMPLE Scott Stevens Hit on Lindros , he was wearing hard plastic shoulder pads.

  137. Look lets face it it's not only the hits, look at the equiment that is being used today ,shoulder pads, & elbow pads made of hard plastic it's like you are wearing steel armour. What happened to the thick padding we used to wear it protected me well, Just think… Boxers wearing hard plastic gloves in the boxing ring EXAMPLE Scott Stevens Hit on Lindros , he was wearing hard plastic shoulder pads.

  138. As a nurse, you were seeing the worst-case small percentage of everyone who does active things and everyone who gets hit on the head. The fact a few people suffer serious injury is not a reason for everyone to modify their behaviour. If we add up all the threats we should be guarding against, you couldn't make a case for it being safe to leave your house.

  139. Mowing the lawn can cause life-long injury or death. Fixing a leaky faucet can cause life-long injury or death. Driving a car anywhere can certainly cause life-long injury or death. How do people like you summon up the courage to go out the door every day?

    I do remember when smoking, not wearing seat belts, drinking and texting while driving was cool and I miss those days a lot. We used to have some fun.

    OK, I'm joking…mostly.

  140. One person. One time. Do you understand at all that a few freak accidents should not inform our overall behaviour as a society?

  141. This is my point, exactly. There is a cost to placing restrictions on kid's fun and communicating to them that the world is a dangerous place that must be approached like a loaded weapon. The statistics on head injuries while riding bikes are not compelling at all. Me and everyone in my generation rode bikes much more than kids today do, and I don't know a single person who ever had a serious injury doing it. Actually, that's not true, I know I guy who broke his back mountain biking and he was wearing a helmet.

  142. Too soon old, too late wise.

    It is mystifying to me how such horrific injuries to athletes' brains could remain unrecognized. Surely any knowledge of the brain and its possible dysfunctions would have brought serious questions about contact sports.

    It's unbearable to think of the terrible life consequences for those unaware young people whose lives were changed forever by sports produced concussions.

    What do you say when there is nothing you can say?

    Perhaps more scientifiic studies of the brain may bring hope to the brain injured and their families. We must do all we can to find treatments and cures for injuries to the brain.

  143. Too soon old, too late wise.

    It is mystifying to me how such horrific injuries to athletes' brains could remain unrecognized. Surely any knowledge of the brain and its possible dysfunctions would have brought serious questions about contact sports.

    It's unbearable to think of the terrible life consequences for those unaware young people whose lives were changed forever by sports produced concussions.

    What do you say when there is nothing you can say?

    Perhaps more scientifiic studies of the brain may bring hope to the brain injured and their families. We must do all we can to find treatments and cures for injuries to the brain.

  144. Men who say people like the violence in hockey are idiots and they should not be the ones who can decide to not do anything about it.. The majority of people love the game not the violence. There is never a great game of hockey when a player has been hurt, especially when the hit has been deliberate.

  145. Men who say people like the violence in hockey are idiots and they should not be the ones who can decide to not do anything about it.. The majority of people love the game not the violence. There is never a great game of hockey when a player has been hurt, especially when the hit has been deliberate.

  146. The legalized assaults that take place in hockey today is like the gladiator sports of Roman times. It has spoiled my enjoyment of watching what should be a game of skill, not just on a pair of blades, but of finesse, reading angles, predicting other p;ayers movements. We can only shudder at the cost to these young athletes as they age and develop dementias, etc. What a pity the audiences love the knock em sock em aspect with no thought to the future health of these fine people!

    • Mary makes a really good point.The insertion of GOONS such as "steckel" has indeed transformed pro hockey
      into something such as 'kick boxing'.When the masterminds who control ice hockey (owners.coaches etc.)
      are prevented from promoting barbarianism on the ice, the goons hopefully will be weeded out,so we can get
      back to the real game.It seems every NHL team maintains one or more 'goons' on the bench.What a pity for a
      society referred to as the 'human race'.

  147. Your commentary is disgusting.
    "In a blind pursuit of personal achievement"
    "what happens when people rely on rules to protect them"
    "no one needs Crosby in the line-up to enjoy hockey … they … should …buy themselves a poster"
    I'm not even a hockey fan but I recognize biased, insensitive, ill-informed and downright rude comments when I read them.
    Mr. Van Eyk – if you don't see how off the mark your comments are, you are in dire need of some sensitivity training.
    Come down off your high horse and join the human race.

  148. I'm disgusted by these goons on the ice who's primary function is to put better players than they are out of the game. i'm a hockey mom who came from a hockey family. The players who do stuff like this don't belong in the game. We are sooo disappointed that the hockey admin. will sit back and call this good hockey. Its criminal.

  149. I'm disgusted by these goons on the ice who's primary function is to put better players than they are out of the game. i'm a hockey mom who came from a hockey family. The players who do stuff like this don't belong in the game. We are sooo disappointed that the hockey admin. will sit back and call this good hockey. Its criminal.

  150. By the replies from your comments I see a change in how people see the game of hockey. You're in the minority now,
    Your "Don Cherry way of thinking" fans are fading fast. Make way for the new fans of hockey, the ones who care for the game.and not the sideshows. No matter how much or how loud you bark, it's happening, whether you like it or not,
    and there's nothing you can do about it. It's called evolution.

  151. The character Kinsella recently cited likes to play this game – borrow others identity to post.

  152. Sorry folks…that ain't me….I have reported it to the website admin.

    Kinsella is after this poster as well for posting in other people's names

  153. great article to share with my 15 year old grandson who plays triple-A
    as well as his parents. Thanks.

  154. great article to share with my 15 year old grandson who plays triple-A
    as well as his parents. Thanks.

  155. I really enjoyed this article, I had two concussions last year within 5 months of each other. Very informative.

  156. I really enjoyed this article, I had two concussions last year within 5 months of each other. Very informative.

  157. Bet it was Don Cherry. His attitude is to glorify the goon. Until he is off HNIC the game will belong to the goons.

  158. Bet it was Don Cherry. His attitude is to glorify the goon. Until he is off HNIC the game will belong to the goons.

  159. Very good article and very good interview Cath. I really enjoy following your articles and i was pleased to see the hockey issue come up. keep up the good work.

  160. Very good article and very good interview Cath. I really enjoy following your articles and i was pleased to see the hockey issue come up. keep up the good work.

  161. Great information, my son suffered 2 concussions in a period of 4 months. So very sad if they were accidents, a person wouldn’t mind as much. It still does”t matter its a life changing attack on a child’s life. The people that are inflicting these injury’s on our children are so in the wrong. I believe that the person who causes injury should suffer the same as the child who receives. For example the child with a concussion cant play for 3 or 4 months or for whatever time, then so should the culprit who inflicts these injury’s for what ever type they are. Also i would like to say that there is a lot of talk here about the goons who cause injury but what about the goons who are sending them out to cause injury its time for a change, suspensions need to be passed on to coaches as well. Coaches are making snowballs and sending goons onto the to throw them.

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