Colorado Avalanche: Facing Concussions in Modern Hockey

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Oct 27, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin (32) center Mikhail Grigorenko (25) and left wing Cody McLeod (55) take position for a faceoff in the first period of a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The “Easy” Solutions

Concussions are nothing new anymore. It’s a common enough injury in sports that fans don’t really debate how they happen when they crop up. To a lot of teams, they even get thrown in the generic brand of reportable team injuries mysteriously disclosed as “upper body injuries”.

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We’re made aware of them when the really big ones happen. The kind that either take out a star player or are a result of a spectacular collision. The media impact of those is bigger than when a linebacker complains that he has migraines.

In the NFL, the focus around concussions has revolved a lot around wide receivers. Guys who are throttled by violent tackles – often while aerial. Since those kind of collisions catch a lot of attention and look particularly nasty, it’s no surprise we’ve seen a lot of changes in how those players can play. Changes have been made and we’re still monitoring to make up our minds about it.

In hockey, it seems obvious to me that if you can shed weight in your criticism of the sport by losing part of the non-essential (by some) sub-activities of the game – then the only thing stopping them is public opinion. I think if opinion shifts enough on the matter of fighting, Gary Bettman, or whoever the commissioner is would probably pick it as an easy target.

After everything I’ve read, I still feel that my opinion on the matter is fluid. There is no denying that the harm is present. What’s to be done about it – I don’t envy the decision makers.

Change is coming. In some form or another, we’re going to have to start making some decisions about what we find palatable as entertainment. Because it’s our interest that sways the opinions of the executives and pressure the whistle blowers to try to make changes.