Does Gary Bettman Really want to Prevent Concussions in the NHL? by Markus Noé – February 14, 2011 15/21

Ottawa ON – Concussions in the NHL have been on a steady incline for the past few years. More and more players are forced to take extended periods of time off because of long lasting effects of their injury. This is most commonly referred to as Post Concussion Syndrome; the symptoms include severe headaches and dizzy spells.
It is no coincidence that this year harsher punishments have been handed down to players who commit ablind side hit or one from behind. The number one player in the world and the face of the league, Sidney Crosby, has been sidelined since before the All-Star Break with PCS after an illegal hit.
The Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman, is often quoted as saying that there is no place in the NHL for players who act with the intention to injure. This is why Antoine Volchenkov of the New Jersey Devils and Matt Cooke of the Pittsburg Penguins are currently serving lengthy suspensions for their illegal hits which caused injury. Now, if Bettman is determined to eradicate this type of play from the game then why not fighting as well?
Fighting has as a much do with players being sidelined as any other part of the game does. Injuries such as broken hands, jaws or facial fractures like in the case of Islanders Goaltender Rick Dipietro are common in NHL Fights. Concussions are regularly sustained by fighting, whether it is by punch or cracking ones head on the ice.
During the 3rd period in a senior AAA hockey game back in 2009, Don Sanderson of the Whitby Dunlops was involved in a fight. Throughout the battle his helmet was removed from his head, which proved to be fatal when he fell and smashed his head on the ice. The injury to Sanderson put him into a coma which he would never awake from. Finally, nearly a month after the fight, his family had to make the tough decision to let him go.
If hits to the head are an important issue for Bettman and his NHL colleagues then why is even considering banning fighting ridiculous? Why does fighting have a protective bubble around it that no matter what happens during a fight, even if death occurs, all is forgiven and deemed a necessary part of the game?
It’s a contradicting image the NHL is putting forward. One side of this is the new NHL where clutching and grabbing have been eliminated so that professional hockey can progress into a purer and faster paced game. On the other side the league says fighting is a part of the history of the sport and an expectable part of the game.
It is a face that the majority of the NHL’s teams are located south of the border, where hockey is not as popular as it is here.  The thrill of a toe to toe scrap is really the only selling point for some markets. However it is two faced of Bettman to say he wants to protect players and drastically reduce the amount of concussions, but in the same breath defends fighting throughout the league.

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  1. I can’t think of any game (except boxing) where players can literally beat the crap out of each other, without serious sanction.

    However, the NHL owners don’t really care, as long as they don’t lose their assets (players) too often. Look at what they did about Todd Bertuzzi a few years ago. The creep should have been banned for life – instead, he gets a one year suspension, which he very conveniently served during the season-long players’ strike.

    Then, to add insult to injury, he gets picked for the Olympic team in 2006, gets a stupid penalty in the third period, and Canada loses the gold medal to Russia.

    The only way anything will ever happen to improve the game will be when fans quit buying (name your team) pennants, jerseys, beer glasses, etc., and start to boycott games. However, will this happen?

  2. Did anyone actually watch and enjoy the last Olympic hockey games? No fights, beautiful hockey playing, it was awesome, and that’s what hockey should be about!! NHL could seriously pick up some good pointers from watching world class hockey at its best.. Put that in your pipe and smoke it Bettman..

  3. There are so many excuses to keep fighting in the game. So called “hockey experts” often link words like “honour” and “respect” to fighting. My favourite, “the game is too fast and emotions run too high for it not to exist”.

    Why is it that the fastest and most emotionally driven hockey games, ie: olympics, international and NHL playoffs have little to no fighting? These excuses are just a load of crock to protect the goon mentality.

    You can’t isolate one type of goonery and keep the other, they go hand in hand, fighting and head-shots feed equally into the culture of no respect for your opponent. When Bettman and the NHL decide they do not—truly do not—want either in the game, it will cease to exist and concussion incidents will drop and we’ll have a new era of exciting hockey.

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