Just a few quick thoughts on some of the happenings or patterns early on in the NHL season.
First off the injury list is loaded with all-star caliber players and that is not good for those individuals' teams and more importantly the fans.
I understand hockey is a physical sport and injuries happen. But I'm constantly surprised and appalled at how the NHL and the NHLPA do not make any true efforts to mitigate the risk of injuries.
Over the last few seasons there have been common injuries flaring up. Concussions are most popular. But you have a rash of groin injuries, hip flexors or hip surgeries. Retirement homes have seen less members having hip surgery than the NHLPA. High ankle sprains and abdominal strains also seem popular.
At some point I think the NHL and NHLPA must look into the equipment and the materials used in equipment. Players don suits of armor made of super hardened molded plastic. Whether it's a shoulder or elbow the opposition player is at great risk of concussion with any blow to the head.
With the one piece composite sticks helping even the fourth line grinder add an additional five mph to his slapshot comes the rise in fractured foot injuries. That brings me to the skate boot. Because modern day skate boots are designed to protect against possible rubber rockets and to be as light as possible the structure of the boot is completely unforgiving. Players cannot bend their ankle outward at all thus putting constant pressure up and through the entire inner part of one's leg which of course leads to strains on the groin and hip areas.
My next suggest would need owner's buy in, but does anyone else miss the ever forgiving boards at the old "Aud" in Buffalo and Chicago Stadium? All the body checks gave the spectator the illusion of a giant bombing hit with the glass swaying back a few feet and yet the boards had enough forgiveness that players were not being crushed, but moreso bouncing off each other and the boards.
One has to think implementation of boards like this in all arenas would cut down on concussions and shoulder injuries.
Lastly players simply play way too much hockey. With an 82 games schedule and the possibility of playing an additional 20+ games if you make it to the cup finals players are simply worn down.
The demands on these players to represent their countries at the World Championships if they were on non-playoff teams and of course their grueling offseason training rituals which unlike most other sports includes a heavy dose of simulated playing action is in my opinion just too much.
Wouldn't the hockey be better if the season was say 60-65 games long. Of course owners would need the players to accept the salaries to be cut by the appropriate percentage to make up for the lost revenue.
Just a few thoughts and worries.