Where is it going to stop?
Not now? Not ever?
As of this morning there were twenty-two players on the NHL’s injury list with concussions or head injuries. Those are the ones that have been publicized. How many of those “upper body” injuries also are related to blows to the head? And the league keeps tell us they’re “hockey plays”.
….Donald Fehr, the new head of the NHL Players Association says they are concerned about the safety of it’s membership. Fehr’s problem is, it’s association members inflicting damage on other association members. His job is to protect every dues-paying member of the association, Zdeno Chara and goons included. This is a league matter and the league sees fit to abdicate.
….Not that the Canadiens are divorced from the concerns about safety in the work place. Ten years ago, after surveying the issue of seamless glass in it’s arenas, the NHL recommended that it’s “brick wall” nature was unsafe and recommended seamless glass be replaced by the more forgiving Plexiglas. All but six teams took the hard glass out. Ten years later, seamless glass is still installed in the Bell Centre.
…..NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sounded like an idiot, or at the very least tone-deaf, when he stated that the league was “extraordinarily comfortable” with the non-suspension decision on Chara, adding, “I don’t think whether or not supplemental discipline was imposed would change what happened.” I wonder if Bettman continues to be in his extraordinary comfort zone after the public outcry that’s followed the callousness exhibited by his hockey department in the Chara affair.
….One of the reasons listed for not taking action on Chara was his the fact that there is no history of violent behaviour. If Chara does something like this again, he still has no history of violent behaviour. That is what we used to call, “Catch-22”.
….There seems to be a lot of internet chatter about the check Hal Gill made on the Islanders Jon Sim (Oct.28/229) at the Bell Centre. Anyone with an ounce of hockey sense can see the difference in the plays starting with the fact that Gill was skating with his back to the stanchion when he started the check. You can see it here. The play meant so little to the flow of the game that there were no television replays.
Ken Dryden played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1971 to 1979. During that time, which featured for part of it, the infamous “Broad Street Bullies”, I hardly ever heard the word “concussion”. Infrequently, you would hear of a player hitting boards head first and “getting his bell rung”. Many players through that era played without helmets but sticks were down and outside of fighting and the odd brawl, there seemed to be a certain amount of respect on the ice, re-enforced by the ability of players to police the game themselves. All of that is lost today. No respect. No deterent. No safety. Here’s an op-ed piece Dryden wrote the Globe and Mail today. It’s lengthy, but well worth the time.