The hockey world is not paying enough attention to concussions. You might disagree. After all, the league was the first to have baseline testing and has been doing solid research in concussions since 1997. But I continually hear a phrase that tells me that the teams (and maybe even the players) are trying to work around the issue.
This week two players, the Washington Capitals’ Jay Beagle and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tyler Kennedy, don’t have a concussion according to their teams. They do have "concussion-like symptoms."
With the growing concern and the lack of knowledge about brain injuries, shouldn’t these teams be more cautious? We’ve all seen the pictures of Reg Fleming’s brain, football’s Dave Duerson’s brain. Should we not be more concerned about the unknown?
One psychologist told me, "Most of the time the ‘concussion-like symptoms’ is a semantic dance that skirts the diagnosis and therefore offers a loophole in the return-to-play steps."
A league source maintained that all concussions are not alike, and concussions are not a black-and-white issue.
If the NHL is serious about concussions, and if the Players’ Association wants to help its constituents, there should be a simple, clear protocol that doesn’t allow for "concussion-like symptoms."
December 17 is a big day in Winnipeg as it marks the return of Randy Carlyle and Teemu Selanne to the Manitoba capital. I would expect that after the Jets’ first game, and their first home win, this would be the team’s biggest night of the season. So, with that in mind, maybe the new Jets should do something special for the old Jets. I envision young Alexander Burmistrov, pulling his No. 8 jersey off to reveal a new No. 88, and the hoisting of the No. 8 to the rafters in honour of both Selanne and Carlyle. It would be like that night at the old Boston Garden, when Ray Bourque pulled off the No. 7 and gave it to Phil Esposito.
Dramatic? Yes. Romantic? Yes. Possible? No.
I emailed my idea to Jets spokesman Scott Brown, to receive this:
"There will be no retiring of #’s in Winnipeg. That’s not to say there hasn’t been discussions about doing something extra that night with both Carlyle and Selanne…"
Nice to hear of something special, but perhaps there should be something more.
And before Jets fans yell that Selanne wore 13 as well, I do know that, but I’m just trying to keep it simple.
Plenty of stories surround the escrow battle and continuing disputes between the league and the PA. Defining HRR is a key issue to all of this. HRR stands for Hockey Related Revenue, which is the monies that the players are suppose to share: 57% to the players, 43% to the owners.
Behind the scenes, HRR might have a different meaning to some people at the NHL. To them it might stand for "Hell, it’s Richard Rodier." From what I’ve been told, Rodier, who challenged and harassed the league for Jim Balsillie, is now the NHLPA’s pit bull when it comes to the CBA and escrow. One person told me that he is driving the finance guys at the league office crazy with his constant phone calls and inquiries. And it is Rodier who is challenging the NHL’s agreement with Glendale on operating costs, for which the city is on the hook.
Rodier, after all, knows a little bit about the Phoenix situation.
Looking at the attendance figures in a couple of cities, there are still a few with home games in four digits. In particular, Dallas, where after having more than 3,000 empty seats for the season opener, the Stars have had home dates of 6,300, 8,000 and 8,300.
It’s not that Dallas is a bad hockey market. The Stars have done an admirable of building ice rinks throughout the area and launching a strong minor hockey program. This is a case of hockey in its right place in Texas in October. The MLB Rangers are in the World Series, and the NFL Cowboys, college football (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor), and even high school football present huge competition for media coverage.
I was reminded of a discussion with former Stars’ president Jim Lites. He said there was so much competition for dollars and eyeballs, it might be better to start hockey in November and go to July. I tried to tell Jim that we Canadians wanted hockey to go from September to May. And it ended there.
By the way, the auction for ownership of the Stars goes Nov. 23. At this point, only Tom Gaglardi of Vancouver is bidding.
Feels like those Premiere games in Europe were a long, long time ago. But if you think they’ve lost momentum, think again. In fact, don’t be surprised if the European games take on more importance; don’t be surprised if the games appear midway through next season, perhaps in late November or early December. That timing would allow for conventional training camps for the four teams involved, and for the games to still be played if next season is delayed by an owners-players conflict on the new CBA.