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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Concussions, Crosby, NHL Rules, Shanahan & Milbury

As one who suffers from concussion / brain injury symptoms I can definitely relate to what Sidney Crosby is going through. I would like to share some of my own symptoms, talk about Sid’s injury, and provide my opinion as to whether he should continue to play or retire. I would also like to make some comments about NHL rules and Brendan Shanahan. 

My symptoms:  If I do something that alters the elevation of my head or shakes my head (sit-ups, shadow boxing, quick up and down movements, a rough ride in a vehicle, etc) I will get pain in the back of my head to varying degrees (even very severe pain), dizziness and the feeling throughout the day that I am going to vomit. I have also had problems with my memory and speech. Let me tell you that life is often not enjoyable when you have concussion symptoms.

Most of us saw the Winter Classic game on January 1, 2011 in which Crosby was hit by David Steckel. When Crosby was down on the ice I immediately knew that he was in big trouble, and the period ended and he managed to get up and he struggled to the bench so that he could leave the ice with his teammates. His balance was not good and it was obvious that he had suffered some permanent damage. Of course, we all know what has transpired since that time and that he is out again after playing in only 8 games this year.

The latest news is that Crosby is back skating again; however, as encouraging as that may sound I have to remind you that skating is altogether different from contact. When Crosby returns to the Penguin’s line-up, whether this year or next year, sooner or later he is going to get hit and hit hard. He will again have concussion symptoms and be out of the line-up. This will go on and on and then he will finally make the decision to retire. The problem is that at that point he will have additional permanent damage and have to live with it for the rest of his life. Thus said, honestly, I don’t think that it would be worth it for him to continue. In my opinion, he should get some more endorsements, retire and get into coaching or some other job where he can stay in the game (if that is what he wants to do in life). He has plenty of money and his health is far more important than extending his career and suffering further damage. As a hockey fan I want him to stay in the game, but as a sufferer of concussion / brain injury symptoms I hope that he does what is best for his long-term health—and that is to retire. His situation has already positively affected the NHL and has been a great lesson to the hockey world, and retiring would have an even greater impact. 

NHL RULES

Without question, the NHL has been making the right decisions by changing rules to protect the players. Who wants to watch dirty players like Lucic brutalize more skilled players? Yes, maybe someone sick in the mind like Mike Milbury, but no normal person wants to see it. I want to watch guys like Stamkos, Malkin, Crosby, Datsyuk, the Sedins, Selanne, Giroux, Kessel, Spezza, Lupul, Eberle and so forth and so forth. What makes hockey the best sport in the world is the never-ending action and excitement, and this excitement is created by the talented players, players who have the skill to make great passes, stick-handle, shoot, throw clean body checks, and make saves! This is the beauty of hockey and what it is all about! RULES are part of the game because dirty play gives a big advantage, ruins the game and makes it too dangerous! Infractions slow down the play and brutality prevents the best players from exercising all of their talent because they have to be concerned about someone trying to maim them! When Gretzky first entered the league I saw him (in a live game) leveled near center ice and it was definitely a situation where the intent was to injure. He was on the ice squirming for some time but fortunately he did not end up in the same condition as Sid. Gretzky’s career could have ended and we would have been robbed of all that he gave, just because of an animal who did not know how to do anything but play dirty. Something is wrong don’t you think?

Let’s be honest, the main reason why Chicago took Vancouver to seven games last year, and the main reason why the Bruins won the Cup is because the NHL allowed them to break the rules and brutalize the Canucks so that the Canucks could not play hockey the way it was meant to be played. Hockey needs to be refereed the same during the regular season and the playoffs, rather than letting the animals do what they want when playoff time comes around! The phrase “let them play hockey” makes NO SENSE AT ALL because when you let the animals do what they want it  ACTUALLY PREVENTS the talented players from PLAYING HOCKEY! When you “let them play hockey” you don’t have hockey but a CIRCUS with a bunch of ANIMALS who are allowed to slash, crosscheck, board, punch, hook and hold! Come on people think it over and admit that I am correct on this point. Well, the special treatment that Boston received from the league (via the refs) gave them the Cup and it greatly benefited the league financially to have an American team win. The NHL should be re-thinking their actions and they should do even more to protect players and the game, both in the regular season and the playoffs.

It obviously does not benefit the league to have many superstars injured. In my opinion, suspensions should be even longer and fines increased because this is a sure way to reduce the number of serious injuries. Nobody wants to lose their salary or risk losing their spot on their team. You have to hit them where it hurts, in the pocket book. Hockey was meant to be played cleanly and that is what rules are for and the league needs to always keep that in mind.

Despite the fact that new rules have been put in place to protect players, I do not believe that the NHL has acted entirely unbiased regarding punishment. Brendan Shanahan’s favoritism towards Lucic is the most obvious example of this fact. Please access the following link and take a look at Lucic’s hit on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (Nov. 12, 2011). How can that go unpunished under the new rules? P-L-E-A-S-E! Be sure to watch it all and listen to Harry Neale and the other announcer. Thanks to Google (YouTube).

After watching the video you need to click the back arrow in your browser to return to my site.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rYgKqDMB9Q

Lucic lied about the matter of course, and Shanahan later took heat from the media for not suspending Lucic. Lucic committed another infraction on Dec. 17, 2011. You can watch it below.  

Please click the link to watch the video and then click the back arrow in your browser to return to my site. 

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=607252

Shanahan gave Lucic a mere one game suspension, but I believe that many other players would have been given three games. Shanahan took more heat for the one game slap-on the-wrist suspension and subsequently he decided to act fairly regarding infractions by other Boston players. Marchand was rightfully given a 5 game suspension and fine for clipping Sami Salo in a game in Boston on Jan. 7, 2012, and in another game Ference was given a 3 game suspension and fine for boarding. His boarding incident was not as deliberate as Lucic’s but he was given three games as compared to Lucic’s one game. Marchand lied by saying he did not hit Salo around the knee area, even after watching the video and knowing that it would be available for all to see. Someone as stupid as him does not know when to call it quits.

It is animals like Lucic and Marchand who ruin the game of hockey. It is a shame that the game became so perverted over the years by guys like Mike Milbury and I hope that the NHL decides to increase the length of suspensions and raises the fines, and to be unbiased in their decisions—before the fans get so frustrated that they don’t even want to watch. And, once again, I hope that they enforce the rules all year round and not just in the regular season; because, that is the only way that talented hockey players will have a chance to win the Cup without having the risk of injury significantly increased. If infractions occur penalties must be given, and that is why there are rules—and any child can see that. Why should talented players have to change their games for the playoffs and become like the animals in the league? Think about it.

Great changes are also occurring in minor hockey. When I played it was terribly brutal and I witnessed and was also the victim of vicious infractions and injuries (including a broken clavicle after a guy took a run at me from center ice and boarded me). The league and parents were to blame due to their teaching, encouragement and / or lack of exercising responsible action. This still goes on today but not near to the same extent. Non-hitting in house league is something that I strongly support. Let the kids have fun without having to worry about being cross-checked in the neck and left paralyzed.  

TJ Stanley