Do-or-die game a perfect time to talk about concussions

Do-or-die game is perfect time to talk about concussions

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Chris Johnston writes for Sportsnet where this first appeared. For more of his work, click here. 

NEW YORK — On one hand, it might seem ridiculous to have a discussion about a concussed/non-concussed fourth-liner just hours before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final. This is the biggest game the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers have played in decades.

However, there’s also a strong case to be made that this is the perfect time to delve into this issue — one being faced by numerous sports leagues and one the NHL has actively been concerned about since 1997.

What is happening with Dale Weise right now is more likely to happen when the games mean so much. The Montreal Canadiens winger took a huge blindside hit from John Moore toward the end of Tuesday’s Game 5 and was clearly wobbly as he left the ice. After a visit to the quiet room (where he is said to have passed a “Modified SCAT 2″ test), Weise saw 1:44 of ice time, including the final 61 seconds of a 7-4 victory.

However, he was then ruled completely out of Thursday’s game at Madison Square Garden. The Habs were cagey about the specific nature of Weise’s ailment — coach Michel Therrien called it a “body injury” — but the fact he sustained one was a key reason why Moore received a two-game suspension.

The NHL looked into how the situation was handled by Montreal’s training staff and determined that there was no wrongdoing. The protocol was followed. All of which reminds us that the protocol is far from perfect, and will likely never be perfect because of the uncertain nature of concussions.

What’s more, short of automatically ruling every player who takes a head hit out of the game, this sort of thing will continue happening. Even the possibility of long-term health consequences won’t dissuade most players at this time of year.

Follow this link to Sportsnet for more on this issue and to hear Montreal defenceman Josh Gorges explain what he thinks about when he’s in the quiet room.