One Easy Solution for All Concussions in the NHL

Ian MathesonContributor IIIDecember 13, 2011

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates of off the ice after getting injured against the Detroit Red Wings during Game Seven of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

With Philadelphia Flyers star forward Claude Giroux out indefinitely after sustaining a head injury during a game, the issue of player safety has once again sky rocketed.

As if another setback to Sidney Crosby wasn't enough, the league now appears to have lost another prominent star due to concussion symptoms and it's becoming clear that something must be done.

While the circumstances surrounding Giroux's injury are different to most concussion-related topics, what remains a constant is the increasing amount of players missing time over head injuries.

Giroux got hurt after his teammate, Wayne Simmonds attempted to hurdle over him while he was down on the ice to avoid collision.

The resulting incident entailed a far worse outcome as Simmonds' knee contacted the back of Claude's helmet, forcing him to leave the game

After initially being listed as day to day, Giroux has started feeling stronger symptoms several days later, shelving him for the foreseeable future.

Apart from Giroux's unique situation, the problem most players encounter that causes head injuries is often the same: shoulder contact to the head.

Over the past few seasons, more players are taking hard shots above their shoulders, and so far the NHL hasn't done much to eliminate it.


Sure they've hired Brendan Shanahan to enforce the rules and dish out stern penalties to illegal checks but is that enough to stop the onslaught of reckless hits? Losing money and missing time is a frustrating deterrent for violators no doubt, but there's a general lack of respect in some cases that's starting to become a problem in the new NHL.

The game is slowly becoming dominated by a younger, speedier generation of players, which means that collisions are happening a lot faster than they used to. 

Old time hockey worked in the past because players didn't fly around as fast, and their equipment was smaller and composed of different material.  

A recent incident that occurred in a game between the Penguins and Canadiens resulted in a concussion for blueliner Kris Letang, after Habs' forward Max Pacioretty cut across the ice on his blind side to make a hit, making contact with his head.

The result is still being felt in Pennsylvania, as Letang is yet to return to the line up and you have to wonder if there could have been a different result had Pacioretty been wearing different shoulder padding.

If you look back several decades to the days when players weren't required to wear helmets, and their padding consisted of light foam and cloth, you'll find that there was a lot more respect amongst players than there is now.

With the shoulder armor that's currently being administered as protective padding, it's little wonder that guys like, Sidney Crosby, David Booth or Marc Savard all missed extensive time because of head hits.

If the league reverted to smaller and softer padding, players wouldn't feel so brave running into players or towards the boards with reckless abandon because the risk of inflicting damage on themselves would be to prevalent.

Would we lose the physical element of a physical game? Absolutely not.

It would only make hockey a safer game, with less permanent injuries than there are now.