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Armstrong Tried To Hide Concussion

from the CP at The Hockey News,

There was no quiet room for Colby Armstrong. No imPACT test, either.

The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t have a chance to follow any of the guidelines set out in the NHL’s concussion protocol because they were unaware the forward was even experiencing symptoms until almost 48 hours after the collision that caused them.

Armstrong was injured during Saturday night’s game against Vancouver but didn’t let the team’s medical staff know he was feeling nauseous until Monday afternoon.

“It took us all by complete shock because we had no idea that he had his bell rung the other night,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said after Monday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles. “He kind of kept that from us.”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: colby+armstrong

Comments

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

So what do we even do when this happens? 

A player who hides symptoms of a concussion is hurting his organization, his teammates, and most of all himself.  Obviously education at all levels of hockey is going to be the best answer going forward, but do you maybe consider one of those slap-on-the-wrist fines made public to at least send SOMETHING of a message to players that hiding concussion symptoms is stupid?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/20/11 at 01:12 PM ET

mmuskrat's avatar

Either that, or we declare Armstrong an official badass.

Posted by mmuskrat on 12/20/11 at 01:36 PM ET

SolidTG7's avatar

Sounds more like an official moron.

Posted by SolidTG7 on 12/20/11 at 01:38 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Well you know how the song goes: if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/20/11 at 01:43 PM ET

Savage Henry's avatar

I agree that education is the key, but by the time these guys get to the NHL it’s probably too late.  Start educating the kids and in a generation the problem will mostly be solved.  All the supplemental discipline and other noise will end up having a much smaller effect than a bottom-up culture change.

Posted by Savage Henry on 12/20/11 at 02:12 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

As a lawyer, when I see a team make statements like this, I wonder about the threat of litigation. I’ve heard some mumblings of potential cases against teams that mishandle guys with concussions - the concussion protocols play into this because they could be taken as establishing the standard of care that a team (or league) must take with regards to player injuries.

It could mean there’s an impetus on teams to go on the record early when a player who mgiht have a serious injury isn’t entirely forthright about his symptoms.

Conversely, there’s an impetus on players to be forthright where an injury is potentially serious. If something that seems minor turns out to be career threatening in the long term, they need to preserve their rights as well. This could offer an explanation for the sudden rise in reports of concussions around the league.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 12/20/11 at 03:23 PM ET

Avatar

So what do we even do when this happens?

You don’t have to be a pro sports athlete to know that this happens all the time.  If you ever played sports you know how this works.  The moment you declare ‘yourself’ hurt, is when another player takes your spot… unless you are the star, you almost always end up hiding your injuries.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 12/20/11 at 03:24 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 12/20/11 at 12:24 PM ET

I’m not so naive to believe otherwise, but when it comes out that this is something which happens, what would you want done about it?

I can’t believe “just accept it as something which happens” would be your desired solution.  I don’t know you though.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/20/11 at 03:48 PM ET

Avatar

I can’t believe “just accept it as something which happens” would be your desired solution.

What’s a better solution?  Fine or suspend someone who doesn’t disclose an injury?  That’s about as good an idea as suspending a player who decides to rest instead of attending the all-star game.

Do you, instead of having a quiet room, insist that if any player has contact made to his head must sit out for 1, 2, 5, 7 or 10 days to make sure he doesn’t have a concussion?

It’s stupid to hide a concussion, but what happens when you start legislating against stupidity?

Posted by Garth on 12/20/11 at 03:58 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

What’s a better solution?  Fine or suspend someone who doesn’t disclose an injury?  That’s about as good an idea as suspending a player who decides to rest instead of attending the all-star game.

Why is fining a guy for doing something he’s not supposed to do a bad idea?

It doesn’t compare to sitting out of the all-star game with an injury.  These are professionals who have guaranteed contracts which are based on their health and ability to play hockey.  If a guy doesn’t disclose an injury which puts him at risk to not be able to live up to that contract, there’s a good argument to be made that his omission is a breach of that.

I’d much rather a guy fight a $2,500 “don’t do that” fine on a $3M contract than get to see the Maple Leafs pick a fight with the NHLPA trying to cancel Colby Armstrong’s contract because he breached it by lying to them.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/20/11 at 04:04 PM ET

Avatar

Why is fining a guy for doing something he’s not supposed to do a bad idea?

Really?  Is there a section in the rulebook that says players have to disclose injuries?

And if you’re going to fine a player who doesn’t disclose a concussion do you also fine a player who doesn’t disclose a bruised ankle?  Or a cold or the flu?  A hangnail?

And how do you justify fining a player for not disclosing an injury unless you plan on making it mandatory for all coaches, players and GMS to specifically disclose ALL injuries to ALL players.

And why would a $2500 fine be satisfactory for a team who has a player potentially breaching his contract?

Posted by Garth on 12/20/11 at 04:31 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Really?  Is there a section in the rulebook that says players have to disclose injuries?

Would this surprise you?  Shouldn’t there be?

I mean, if it’s something embarrassing that’s not really the team’s business (which is still arguable, because the team’s business is the player’s ability to play hockey), then he AT LEAST should disclose that he has an injury that’s none of their goddamn business.  Are you seriously saying that a player should NOT be required to disclose a concussion?  I know that medical privacy is a pretty big issue and I’m completely on the side of the people who agree that what fans get told is upper-body or lower-body because it’s none of OUR goddamn business what particular part of an NHL player hurts… but it is the TEAMS’ goddamn business.  If a player is that worried about his medical privacy in the face of the people who are paying him $3M to, for the most part, be healthy, then he’s welcome to retire with his money to take up a job where it maybe isn’t such an issue for him.

And if you’re going to fine a player who doesn’t disclose a concussion do you also fine a player who doesn’t disclose a bruised ankle?  Or a cold or the flu?  A hangnail?

Well if you want to be a dick about it, I absolutely would fine a player who intentionally knows about and fails to disclose that he’s carrying an easily communicable disease into a locker room with $60M worth of talent.  He shouldn’t have to disclose a bruised ankle because the training staff should catch that; it would also be stupid of him not to do so and get the proper treatment for it (treatment which is paid for by the team).

And how do you justify fining a player for not disclosing an injury unless you plan on making it mandatory for all coaches, players and GMS to specifically disclose ALL injuries to ALL players.

That’s actually quite easy.  The idea isn’t that it’s everybody’s business that a guy has an injury, like this logic would imply. The idea is that it’s the team’s business to know when the guy they signed a good-faith contract with them isn’t able to carry that out.  Colby Armstrong doesn’t have to tell the world he’s feeling concussion symptoms, but he should have told somebody on the team. 

Hell, the fact that Colby Armstrong (or anybody) has a concussion falls back into the realm of being none of the fans’ business.  If the Maple Leafs want to fine [undisclosed player] for failing to report [undisclosed issue] and that’s all we hear as fans, that’s all we really have the right to.  Double-hell because we don’t actually have the right to know that anybody is being fined ever (and it IS specifically written in the CBA that fines for players do not have to be made public)

And why would a $2500 fine be satisfactory for a team who has a player potentially breaching his contract?

For the same reason that a $50 speeding ticket is satisfactory for somebody who is potentially endangering the lives of dozens of people at any given time while he’s committing the crime instead of hauling that person in and taking away his license.

Levying the fine lets players know that they’re the ones responsible when things like this happen.  It’s not a witch hunt to make sure that every little bump and bruise is properly documented in the NHL archives, it’s a safety measure to say “look, we know you’re sometimes going to try to be the tough-guy and not tell us everything. Just know that when you get caught doing it, you’re going to be given a measure of punishment for your potentially dangerous (and expensive) lie”.

Seriously though, Garth.  Is your solution to this issue “accept that it happens and move on”?  That’s all I want to know.  Are you telling me that, in the light of a proposed solution which admittedly does not completely solve the problem, that no action is better than some?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/20/11 at 05:21 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Clause 4 of the NHL SPC allows teams to establish rules relating to player health that functionally become part of the contract -those rules don’t appear to be public, but I’d be shocked if any such rules don’t establish a duty to disclose injuries.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 12/20/11 at 05:59 PM ET

Avatar

You know what?  *#$%@& all this.  I had a long response written out but I deleted it.  Go ahead and read the article.  Go past the headline that claims he “hid it”.

“This afternoon he was nauseated, blurry vision, so he’s got a concussion and we didn’t know that until later in the afternoon.”

So he first had the symptoms Monday afternoon and told them “later in the afternoon”.

You’re proposing that he gets fined for that?  He should be fined because he could’ve maybe kinda possibly might have hid symptoms from the team or he could’ve GOTTEN the first symptoms of it on Monday?

Before you even start talking about fines and punishment, find a definite way to prove when symptoms start and find a way to prove when Armstrong’s symptoms started.  It’s very possible that he didn’t even know he had a concussion until minutes before he told the coaching staff.

A head shot is a tangible thing, you can look at video and say “There.  That was physical contact with the head” and there are sill people who will argue what is and isn’t a head shot, and you think that post-cioncussion syndrome is a simple, easily proveable thing that you can apply a dollar-amount fine to?

Give me a break.

Posted by Garth on 12/20/11 at 06:29 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Armstrong was injured during Saturday night’s game against Vancouver but didn’t let the team’s medical staff know he was feeling nauseous until Monday afternoon.

“It took us all by complete shock because we had no idea that he had his bell rung the other night,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said after Monday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles. “He kind of kept that from us.

He didn’t tell the trainers or the doctors yesterday that he had his bell rung.

Wilson hinted that that may have played a role in his attempt to hide the concussion.

You’re going to take whatever you want to believe out of the story, but reading things in context, I do not believe that this is a case that Colby Armstrong felt fine for two days and then experienced symptoms immediately before telling the team. 

The definite way to prove that Colby Armstrong did the wrong thing is that they have a SPECIFIC HIT outlined in the article which explains when he “had his bell rung” and he didn’t report that to the team.

Did Ron Wilson just guess that’s when the hit happened which caused it or can we play it safe and think that the idea that Wilson discussed the specific play in which it happened was evidence that Colby Armstrong knew he had “gotten his bell rung” and intentionally kept from reporting it to his team.  I feel comfortable in saying that Armstrong admitted to the team that he felt something was up on Saturday, even if he thought he could tough it out.  Of course, Wilson disagrees with that concept as well.

The 29-year-old winger has missed time with a variety of ailments over the last year and a half, playing just nine games for the Maple Leafs this season. Wilson hinted that that may have played a role in his attempt to hide the concussion.

“Things have been going so badly for him with injuries,” said the coach.

I can say that I believe, based on the evidence that we’ve been provided, that there is sufficient reason to say that a player suffered a head injury which he was aware of.  I believe that he failed to report it to his team for reasons beyond self-diagnosis, and I believe that as a result, Colby Armstrong acted in bad faith as far as player safety and his contractual obligations fall.

I believe that this evidence would be sufficient to levy a token fine against him to send a message to players that the league is taking player safety as seriously as the players should be.

I honestly don’t believe this situation would come up very often at all, but if it comes up once in three years, then it should be dealt with consistently that one time every three years.  I’ll reiterate that I’m not looking for a witch-hunt, but rather a way to get the message to players that being the “tough-guy” trying to play through having one’s bell rung is not in keeping with the expectations of professional ethics and that it continues to promote a bad culture within their own sport.

But if you want to believe that Colby Armstrong felt totally fine until Monday afternoon, then there’s no point in discussing this present case further, as we are working off of wildly different sets of speculation.  I’ll readily admit that if I could believe Colby Armstrong felt absolutely zero ill effects (including a “bell-rung effect immediately after the hit on Saturday), then there would be no reason to punish him, since that would actually not have been an act in bad faith.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/20/11 at 07:16 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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