Blog Entry

Hurricanes say Skinner, Pitkanan have concussions

Posted on: December 14, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 3:49 pm

By Brian Stubits

The hits keep on coming (no pun intended).

On Wednesday the Carolina Hurricanes announced that not one but two of their best players are the latest to catch the concussion bug that's spreading through the NHL. Reigning Calder Trophy winner -- and leading scorer with 12 goals and 24 points -- Jeff Skinner and top defenseman Joni Pitkanen are both out indefinitely because of the injury.

That means in the last 48 hours Skinner, Pitkanen, the leading goal scorer Milan Michalek and NHL's leading points man Claude Giroux have all had concussions announced. Throw in Sidney Crosby's possible concussion that was announced on Monday, and you have an all-star caliber list of concussed players.

The Flyers showed on Tuesday that they might be able to withstand the loss of Giroux by destroying the Capitals in Washington 5-1. But the Hurricanes are already in a world of hurt, sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Being down arguably their most talented offensive player as well as their top offensive defenseman will make new coach Kirk Muller's challenge of getting the 'Canes back in the playoff race even more monumental.

But the bigger question at play here has to do with why the players -- some of the league's best, mind you -- dropping like snow in Alaska. Concussions seem to be so much more common these days than they ever were. Why is that if the game hasn't changed much, if at all?

Well primarily the issue at hand is that now concussions are actually being recognized and diagnosed in a way they never were before. How many concussions went unknown through the history of the league is impossible to know, but the number is likely astronomical. However with today's education and attention to brain injuries, they are being treated with more caution.

But it can't be ignored too that this is one of the side effects of a bigger, faster and stronger athlete. Some of the guys on the ice any more are tanks on skates, massive bodies travelling at high rates of speed. Things are bound to get a bit uglier on the injury side.

At this point it's hard to find a player in the league who hasn't been concussed.

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Nov 4, 2006
Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:04 pm

Hurricanes say Skinner, Pitkanan have concussions

Amen. My chin strap is tight. I don't care if anyone says that's nerdy or uncool. But it keeps me concussion free when I play pick up hockey games with my JOFA Birdcage faceguard. Hate the fog ups of visors!

Since: Oct 30, 2009
Posted on: December 16, 2011 6:30 pm

Hurricanes say Skinner, Pitkanan have concussions

With players being stronger and faster then they were 20yrs ago maybe it would be a good idea if these players when they wear a helmut to have the chin strap actually touch the chin. Do me a favor. Next time you watch a Hockey game take a look at these players and their lack of saftey when it comes to the helmut. 80 of these guys wear their helmut incorrectly. Watch.......

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: December 15, 2011 10:02 am

Hurricanes say Skinner, Pitkanan have concussions

There is only one solution as the players are bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled than ever, they have to remove hitting from the game, I know they will never do it but educating players on legal hits and more suspensions and fines does nothing, there is no fix other than to remove hitting. Wouldn't be so bad, be more like the 80s

Since: Nov 4, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 9:30 pm

Hurricanes say Skinner, Pitkanan have concussions

It has to be the rock hard elbow & shoulder pads. Something HAS to be done or this will be the AHL by All-Star break!

Since: Apr 11, 2008
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:53 pm

Hurricanes say Skinner, Pitkanan have concussions

The NHL has a fairly simple choice. It can either go for the European size rink or it can face the prospect of having teams made up of predominantly minor-league players in the play-offs.

As more concussions are diagnosed, as the risks and time needed to recover from them are becoming more understood, the league has to appreciate that keeping rinks at their current size is going to result in many, many of its stars facing significant time on the sidelines.

I doubt we'll get European-style rinks but the chances are they will increase in size.

One point that many people have brought up is improved technology, especially of helmets to help reduce the chances of concussions.

Hopefully we'll see that from some kind of joint venture between the NHL and NFL. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or