Chris Pronger's career is probably over, Sidney Crosby had a recurrence of symptoms, and leading scorer Claude Giroux, leading goal scorer Milan Michalek and his brother Zbynek, future Norris candidates Kris Letang and Marc Staal, Calder winner Jeff Skinner, Mike Richards, and everyone else is out with a concussion. :-/
So, this probably isn't more players getting concussed than usual, but more players being honest and cautious about their symptoms because of the awareness around Crosby and concussions in general. But an epidemic is still an epidemic. Like with the NFL, I don't trust the people in charge to be proactive in protecting people's health, but like with the NFL, once it becomes a PR issue -- and concussions have become the defining story of the NHL in 2011 -- then it's dam the torpedoes. If they really want to (appear to) get out in front of the issue, I would think they'll throw everything at it: all blows to the head are banned and penalized regardless of intent (and, quite frankly, culpability) instead of Shanahan discipline hair-splitting, equipment is changed to be less weaponized, players with possible concussions can't return to a game no matter what, fighting will eventually go as more Boogard-type stories get publicized. One of the most potentially beneficial changes will probably meet the most resistance: bigger rink sizes, at the expense of attendance. Dinosaurs and the proudly ignorant will cry about it, but that's their role to play and they're not really important once a problem goes from in-house debate to public controversy. What supersedes everything is players' safety and well-being belated regulations to cover your ass.
Or maybe they'll just dedicate the GM meetings to serious changes to and stricter enforcement of shootout spinorama rules and the players can quit being such pussies.
Pronger actually played five games with a concussaion according to reports. I don't know if there's an franchise that misdiagnoses their players or hides injuries quite like the Flyers. I agree on equipment but that's more on the players than the league.
I think as much as people in the NHL love their fighting and hard hits, its time to realize, its doing nothing for the league. Sid is the face of the NHL and him being out has to make people wonder if this sport is worth it. I am still going to watch hockey even with Sid being out, but when he was back, he was awesome. 12 points in 8 games, unreal. I think people need to stop thinking people are pussies for not manning up. When it comes to their health, players need to think about themselves first and the team second which violates the unwritten locker room code, but fuck it. I am sure Sid would rather remember winning a Cup then winning another Cup, he can't remember.
If anything, I think the NHL should adopt the Olympic style. Its cleaner and a lot more fun to be honest. I know the purist will want their fighting, but thats what UFC is for. Its time to start throwing people out for fighting and hits to the head. If they are not willing to do that then they will either have to leave with having ugly looking hockey or being the Walking Dead sport.
The Wee Baby Sheamus.
Twitter: @realjoecarfley its a bit more toned down there. A bit.
For the record I think Gonchar would have been an even worse move. So far Leech looks good and everyone on the team seems to enjoy playing with him, so I'm hoping everything turns out alright and we win the cup this year.