It was another bad week for concussions in the NHL. Sidney Crosby, who many hoped would be back in the Penguins’ lineup by now, is still unable to practice. Unsure of his return, he sought help from a specialist in Atlanta and is seeing another in California. Center Danny Briere was concussed in Saturday’s game against the Devils. He’s the sixth Flyer to suffer that injury this season. Teammate James van Riemsdyk is still sidelined; Chris Pronger is out for the rest of the season, maybe longer, and his wife Lauren went public with their struggles (video). The Jets’ leading goal scorer, Evander Kane, joined the ranks late last week. The Bruins’ Marc Savard (photo above), whose career is in doubt after repeated concussions, disclosed the problems he’s having with headaches and memory.
When 28 players were concussed in December, we titled our post on the subject ”An Awful Month for NHL Concussions.” The way Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden sees it, however, it would be a mistake to believe that this epidemic of head injuries is a temporary condition, and that the game will get past it the way one gets over a cold. We’re better off thinking that this painful situation is the way things in the NHL will continue to be.
Dryden would like to see an annual conference on head injuries in hockey, to get all of the affected parties in one place. It’s not a new idea (Pierre McGuire proposed the same thing a few years ago in his radio segments in the U.S. and Canada), and it certainly merits doing. He’d like to start by having former players, like Keith Primeau, tell their stories of what it’s like to live with a brain injury that hasn’t entirely healed six years after suffering it. Dryden says Primeau, who has started an organization called stopconcussions.com, still suffers from what he calls “head pressure” and a lack of energy. It would give these players a chance to “tell their stories; very simply, this is what it’s like. This is the impact, these are the consequences, these are the stakes.”
(You can hear Primeau discuss stopconcussions.com in this recent interview.)
“The best brain scientists would be there to talk about what they know, and what they don’t know,” Dryden envisioned in his second article. “Players who have suffered brain injuries will provide their personal stories. League officials at different levels, in different sports, will talk about what steps they have taken, what’s worked and what hasn’t. The best coaches and best players, past and present, will be there to talk about what they’ve been trained to do and what they’ve done all their lives. Faced with an opponent, in this case a new ‘head-smart’ set of rules and way of playing that keeps you from doing some things one way, what do you do? What new creative answer can you come up with? What can you do that is even better than what you did before? Each year, there will be new findings, new ideas, and fresh challenges to players, coaches, officials, scientists, and entrepreneurs who, in their DNA, feed on fresh challenges.”
Will Gary Bettman and the owners see things this way? Dryden isn’t sure. He is sure that the belief some people hold — that the league won’t do anything until someone dies – ”isn’t good enough.” He believes we are capable of better and the time to act is before more players are put at risk and anyone dies.
“This is an ongoing thing,” he says. “It’s not something that’s random bad luck. This is tomorrow unless you start finding a way to make a better tomorrow.”
FULL STORY: http://nhl-red-light.si.com/2012/01/23/ken-drydens-anti-concussions-mission/?sct=nhl_t11_a0