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The Crosby effect: when a brain injury is a brain injury

Just a quick thought as the sun shines down on a beautiful August afternoon: the news from CTV Atlantic that Sidney Crosby is still suffering concussion symptoms, and is unlikely to start the season with the Penguins, doesn’t surprise me. It shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s ever had a concussion. Why? Because it’s a devastating injury to the brain. A brain injury.

When will the NHL, and other sports in general, recognize this?

I know I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s important, so I’m taking time out of the sun to mention it again. The brain is a pretty important part of the body. I think we can all agree on that. Yet the NHL continues to use archaic terms like “upper body injury” and “concussion.” Wouldn’t people take these situations more seriously if we acknowledged the severity of the injuries?

Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me that while Crosby wrestles with trying to exercise, let alone play, the NHL is focused on making the nets narrower. Who gives a damn? The size of the nets doesn’t matter if we don’t have any players. And time and time again they are being sidelined by serious, often intentionally caused, brain injuries.

So isn’t it about time we called them that?

It never ceases to amaze me how lackadaisically the NHL attacks situations like this. These are the players. The lifeblood of the game. You’d think nets, and red lines, and fans throwing waffles and octopi on the ice, were more important. How often do you hear NHL executives talk about the need to address this problem? Sure, we get commentary on “hits to the head” after terrible acts like the Pacioretty incident, Nathan Horton being blindsided, or Gary Suter on Paul Kariya, But it never goes any further.

I’m buoyed by the fact that they are revamping the rules on headshots. I really am. But until we change the terminology, the reaction is going to remain the same. I’m as guilty as anyone. I say concussion sometimes, just like everybody else. But I’m making an effort to change my vocabulary on this subject.

Concussion says one thing. Brain Injury is a whole other kettle of fish.  And I’ll be happy if one person who reads this post picks up the term.

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The NHLPA is part of the problem. When one of their members takes another out, they always protect the offender. Always. They see their role as protecting the earnings of both players and as the injured party can’t help miss out, they go to bat on behalf of the offender.

You can’t win if the Player’s Association protects those that seek to harm others. Simple as that.

Posted by Marc10 from Sydney, Oz on 08/22/11 at 10:31 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

As long as we’re questioning the semantics of headshots, why don’t we take a look at whether its proper to call the ‘Pacioretty incident’ a ‘terrible act’?

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 08/23/11 at 02:04 AM ET


Hey Da lil Guy: To my mind, anytime a young player, old player, good player, bad player, doesn’t matter, gets drilled in the head, in any fashion, and ends up with severe injuries, it’s a terrible act. Intentional? Not my position to determine. But terrible? Absolutely.

Marc10: You’re bang on. The NHLPA is a big part of the problem, and if there is a true solution, they’re going to have to be a driving force.

Thanks as always for the comments.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/23/11 at 07:30 PM ET

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

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