Colorado Avalanche: Facing Concussions in Modern Hockey

23 of 30

View image |

Concussions and the NHL Horizon

Remember that Wes Welker helmet? The Riddell 360 with the extra standoff? Let’s pretend for a second that a year from now, a similar one is found to eliminate the threat of concussions from an athlete.

It would probably end up looking like a full-face motorcycle helmet (that ones that cover everything with the large visor). Do you think if a helmet like that existed that players in the NHL would wear one? NFL Players would probably adapt pretty well.

Some in the NHL probably would, but I’m guessing that most wouldn’t. Too much of a burden to maneuverability and field of vision. I could imagine a lot of players losing the puck in their skates while heading up ice.

Besides, NHL helmets aren’t really designed to prevent concussions. Dr. Charles Burke, an orthopedic surgeon who works with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the League and is in charge of a study tasked with compiling information about concussions in hockey and how to prevent them. He told the NY Times that he doesn’t think helmets are the solution either:

"“The direct blow to the head causes a rotational force. The helmet has nothing to do with anything. The helmet is attached to the head and it is going with the head. It is the force applied to the head that causes the brain to bruise inside the skull. That’s one of our theories. Obviously, we haven’t been able to prove or disprove it at this point.”"

Lots of hockey players have come forward to talk about the concussions that they’ve suffered in hockey. Carl Lindros, father of repeated sufferer Eric Lindros, explained what he saw happen to both of his sons after the sport:

"“Once the brain is ripped apart, it is very easy to dramatically rip it apart with a second concussion.”"

Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils delivered one of the nastiest elbows to Eric Lindros:

Carl Lindros hasn’t watched the footage of what has been replayed hundreds of times to his son Eric, only the aftermath. He’s well versed on Level 1, 2 and 3 concussions and has to believe what doctors say happened to both of his hockey playing sons.

Players have a lot to contend with already when the game moves as fast it does, so anything that proves cumbersome to that seems like it would be ditched as soon as practice if given the chance by players.

A example of that kind of equipment already exists in hockey – the visor. Current rules under the NHL Equipment Guidelines only just mandated visors be worn by all players last season. For all seasons before that, visors were optional equipment.

Some players find having anything in front of their face as a hindrance, so they don’t wear them.

Next: Patrick Wey