The concussion has been with hockey as long as it has been played. NHL players played this game on ice for money for three quarters of a century before they finally legislated helmets as mandatory for new players joining the league back in 1979. Craig MacTavish still played hockey without a helmet in his last season in 1996-97.
The struggle to get players to wear helmets to protect their brains from injury was almost as dragged out as was the struggle to get goalies to wear a mask after Jacques Plante introduced the mask in 1959. It took goalies 15 years to completely adopt the mask but at least the NHL never had to legislate it for their own protection.
This season the NHL has adopted a rather poorly conceived and impossible to administer hit to the head rule in an attempt to reduce concussions. A couple of exceptionally brutal attacks to the head last season, most notably the Mike Richards hit from the side on David Booth, lead the NHL to attempt to put in place a rule to try to protect it's players from concussions.
Instead of helping it seems to have hindered the players. More players then ever are reported with and missing games due to concussions. Part of this is due to the new awareness and improvement in diagnosis of concussions. Players too have been made more aware of the long term detrimental effects that repeated concussions can have not only to his playing career but even to his ability to participate in and enjoy life after hockey.
The NHL history books are littered with the names of stars who missed huge chunks of their careers or had their careers ended early because of concussion. Eric Lindros, pictured above, is one of the more famous of those.
The talent thin NHL currently has 20 players out with concussion. Many more have suffered this injury this season. The NHL needed to do something about this decades ago. They are starting in their slow methodical way to try to do something about it now. I don't know if NHL players can afford to wait the ten or fifteen years it normally takes them to institute obvious safety regulations. If the league doesn't take the lead the players association needs to for once in it's life get things rolling.
Here is a quick look at some of the talent out now with a concussion.