The NHL implemented a new concussion protocol this season that allows an independent spotter to call down to the ice and remove any player from the game that they deem may have a concussion.
As expected, this has been controversial.
But while teams can still compete when a skater is removed from the game, that isn’t always the case when the spotter pulls a starting goalie out. On the Headlines segment during Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted that how the spotters deal with goalies could be on the table when the NHL’s general managers meet next week.
Citing a recent game in which Arizona’s Mike Smith was pulled, Friedman says that players and general managers want a change but “the league is pretty adamant about this stuff.”
“There’s a concussion lawsuit going on and I’m not sure they’re going to bend to the GMs on this one,” he added.
Kelly Hrudey, a former NHL goalie, said he thinks there needs to be some alterations to the rule. He says there’s nothing stopping a team from sending their tough guy at the opponent’s goalie with the hopes that the spotter will then remove him.
The panel also showed two plays from Saturday’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers to show how goalies are reacting to the spotters. In the first one, Montreal’s Carey Price was run over by a Rangers player, but he didn’t stay down on the ice. The other saw New York’s Henrik Lundqvist get hit in the head and appear to be in a daze while Andrew Shaw scored.
Nick Kypreos, who’s NHL career ended after he suffered multiple concussions, argued that having the spotter makes goaltenders think twice about taking their time to get composed after a hit to the head.
“These (goalies) won’t get the benefit of the doubt or the treatment that they need,” he said.
It’s clear that there are a lot of opinions and perspectives on this debate. After the upcoming GM meetings, there could be some more clarity on the situation.