Colorado Avalanche: Facing Concussions in Modern Hockey

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Nov 6, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Daniel Winnik (26) is taken off the ice after sustaining an injury in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

What’s Been Done?

As NFL referee Walt Anderson told, “[Commissioner of the National Football League Roger] Goodell is very serious about this. We’re going to be a very proactive in doing what we can to strike an appropriate balance. We do have a contact sport. At the same time, what can we do to protect the players’ safety?”

So what’s in place to prevent concussions in the NFL? The refs have been trained for awareness. Bans have been imposed for hits on defenseless players. Trainers, specialists and referees have had meetings with the teams. Players cannot lead with the crown and players are encouraged to tackle lower.

In the National Hockey League, organizations have been coming out of the woodwork to discuss the safety of players going forward. Both the NFL and NHL have done incredible work in educating upcoming players about concussions and why they’re detrimental.

By analyzing a lot of video, the NHL found that 90% of concussion related injuries came on direct head contact, typically with another player’s shoulder, elbow or upper body. They found that only one in 10 concussions came from fighting.

Rule 48, along with host of other precautions, has been a major emphasis for referees and the league on a whole. It deems that “a lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted” is punishable by “five-minute major penalty and automatic game misconduct, as well as possible supplemental discipline if deemed appropriate by the League.”

Next: Is it Working?