2011 In Hockey, The Year Of The Head

Friday, 12.30.2011 / 12:31 PM CT
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Razor With An Edge Blog

The year was permeated and punctuated with affairs of the head, from the face of the modern NHL, Sidney Crosby to the mental demons of a trio of tough guys, to intelligent changes in the name of player safety.

Examining the Brain

Families of deceased former NHLers Rick Martin, Bob Probert and Reggie Flemming donated their loved ones brains to BU Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. Findings were somewhat troubling yet illuminating.

Shutting Down a Super Star

Crosby was first injured at the Winter Classic, then absorbed another hit a couple games later and was pulled from the Pens lineup for the remainder of last season and the first two months of this season. After briefly returning he is again out of their lineup with no return date in sight.

New Rinkside Protocol

Teams adopted a more refined post head trauma test. We heard the phrase 'quiet room' and watched as player after player - after player was diagnosed with 'concussion-like symptoms.

The Three Suicides That Stunned Hockey

In disturbing succession Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak all took their own lives. All three made a living in hockey with their fists more than their sticks and their deaths were immediately linked because of that - a premature conclusion most would state.

The Department of Player Safety

The league emerged from a sort of 'Dark Ages' in regards to player discipline especially when the subject of hitting was on the table and in particular hits to the head. Brendan Shanahan was put in charge and he has wielded a suspension hammer in tandem with the power of video. He's like a scar faced, no nonsense Carson Daley setting up video clips on NHL, not TRL.

Friendly Bumpers

Forced by a violent head-to-turnbuckle collision involving Max Pacioretty, the league altered the configuration of where glass ends to a curved, forgiving transition area. Smart, and overdue.

Broadcast Headed in Better Direction

The hiring of John Collins to head up the NHL's Broadcast Dept. was a fabulous one. He comes from the NFL where they seem to be doing ok. The massive NBC deal plus a gaggle of International rights contracts have come under his watch. Smart man. Full head of hair.

Concussions

It's not just hockey, pro sports like soccer and football have also seen a disturbing escalation in the number of players sidelined with what is essentially a bruised brain. But hockey seems to be magnified, probably because it's the only sport that allows fighting and it's the only one played in a confined area. How deep has this 'epidemic' become? Well at one point in late December the league's top point scorer, it's top goal scorer and it's best overall player were all out of their respective lineups due to concussions.

The Messier Project

Mark Messier has helped develop a helmet that claims to "displace energy within seconds". The problem at the NHL level seems to be that the helmet doesn't pass the "mirror test", as in, it doesn't look good on. Fashion 1, Intelligence and Safety no score.

With a half a season of hockey to be played and a new CBA to be hammered out by the Fall of 2012 I hope and trust we're headed in the right direction on all of this.

To all of you, I wish a happy and prosperous New Year...and a January 1 headache that is much more manageable than ones scores of NHLers had, have, or will have in the coming year due to their chosen vocation, and an errant elbow or two.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 8 5 7 7 12
J. Spezza 8 4 5 0 9
C. Eakin 8 0 7 3 7
A. Goligoski 8 3 2 -3 5
P. Eaves 7 2 3 3 5
P. Sharp 8 3 1 2 4
R. Faksa 8 2 2 2 4
J. Klingberg 8 1 3 -2 4
A. Hemsky 8 1 3 2 4
M. Janmark 7 1 3 0 4
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 4 1 0 .906 2.45
A. Niemi 1 2 2 .892 2.73
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