Chris Pronger out for Season: The NHL Concussion Epidemic Needs to Be Addressed

Christopher BeniniContributor IDecember 16, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 24:  Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers falls to the ice after being hit in the face by a stick during the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Wells Fargo Center on October 24, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

How many more NHL stars need to land on the infirmary report before the NHL takes action?

Losing the face of the NHL, Sidney Crosby, was apparently was not enough and Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes, and Claude Giroux are just some of the names that have landed on the injured list at one point or another this season. Now, the Philadelphia Flyers have announced star defenseman Chris Pronger will miss the rest of the 2011-12 season due to post-concussion syndrome.

The amount of concussions in the NHL continues to rise and the league has not taken significant steps to address the issue.

Sure, the NHL has taken some steps, but they are just baby steps. The NHL's senior VP of Player Safety Brendan Shannahan has created suspension videos for actions warranting suspension. These penalties and fines have not been sincere enough.

During a recent matchup between the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars, Stars defenseman, Mark Fistric left his feet and delivered a direct blow to the head of Islanders rookie, Nino Niederreiter.

Niederreiter, who quickly fell to the ground and was unable to stand up straight, was eventually diagnosed with a concussion.

Fistric was only hit with a three-game suspension by Shannahan despite video evidence showing that he went directly for Niederretier's head and completely left his feet in the process. Fistric was not penalized at all during the game.

In an episode of ESPN's Outside the Lines, analyst Barry Melrose suggested that any hit to the head should not only result in a fine, but suspension as well. In addition, the former player and coach stated players should also receive a five-minute major penalty.

Jack Edwards, announcer of the Boston Bruins, thought Melrose's suggestion was ridiculous and even jokingly said that Zdeno Chara would be penalized 70,000 minutes a game when the Bruins play the Montreal Canadiens.

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 5:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins waits for a face off against the Boston Bruins on December 5, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The NHL continues to claim they have the most advanced tests and best equipment of any sport when it comes to concussions. The problem isn't the tests or the equipment—the problem is a lack of preventative measures. The NHL has to do more. The league needs to actually acknowledge how serious these injuries actually are.

As players becomes more advanced, so does the equipment. Skaters are skating faster, and shooting and hitting harder than ever before, and as a result the concussion trend is on the rise.

Even the most technological advanced helmets have not seemed to help this ongoing battle with concussions that the league seems to be on the losing end on.

The time is now for commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL. The NHL needs to make a stand and at least make an attempt to put an end to the concussion epidemic in the NHL.