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Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:01 am

Report: Marc Staal to see concussion specialist

By Brian Stubits

Things have been quiet on the Marc Staal concussion front. That's because the Rangers essentially put a gag order on the issue so there has been little to report.

But Friday marks the first time this season Eric Staal faces the Rangers and considering it was him who put his brother out of action with the concussion-inducing hit, it brought attention back to the story. So what has been happening on the Marc Staal front?

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Marc was told to stay off the ice for a month.

A news blackout has been imposed regarding Marc’s condition, but The Post has learned the 24-year-old defenseman will be examined next week in Boston by concussion specialist Dr. Robert Cantu.

The examination, sources have told The Post, will follow a one-month “shutdown” period ordered by Cantu when Staal visited him during the week of Oct. 16 while the Rangers were in western Canada.

This situation has never sounded good from the start, but we've come a long way from Staal being held out of practice and preseason games for precautionary reasons. Unfortunately, this is starting to resemble the Sidney Crosby situation.

As for brother Eric, this is going to further prolong his agony, particularly with all the questions leading up what is normally a brother-meet-brother battle.

"I wouldn't say it has kept me awake at night, but it's tough," he told "If I could take it back I probably wouldn't hit him knowing where we've gone and what has gone on since then. But it was one of those plays, bang-bang, happens so quickly, and I hit him hard."

It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Eric gets when the Hurricanes visit MSG on Friday, both from the fans and the Rangers.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 3:46 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 3:50 pm

Caps' Laich has heard enough about concussions

By Brian Stubits

There are a few ongoing hot topics in the NHL these days, one of them is the concussion debate. It was already a big conversation before Sidney Crosby was sidelined with one, but since the superstar has been out for 10 months and counting, it has seemed to be an even bigger deal.

The whole idea of the concussion movement, for lack of a better term, is to protect the players. We're talking about something that has proven to be a very serious danger. Paul Kariya went on a bit of a tirade concerning concussions when announcing his retirement. After all, they shortened his career. In football, there have been high school players who died from concussions.

It isn't hyperbole when you hear people say this is life and death discussion. It truly can be.

But Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich doesn't much care for it (Washington Times) and has heard just about enough.

“I really don't care about that awareness stuff. To be honest I'm sick of hearing all this talk about concussions and about the quiet room,” Laich said. “This is what we love to do. Guys love to play, they love to compete, they want to be on the ice.

“How do you take that away from somebody? We accept that there's going to be dangers when we play this game and know that every night that you get dressed. Sometimes it just feels like we're being babysat a little too much. We're grown men and we should have a little bit of say in what we want to do.”

Teammate Mike Green, who missed a good portion of last season because of a concussion, basically echoed Laich's standpoint.

“You've got to make that call. I think at times the protocol for testing for concussions -- they're just tests, they're not exactly how you feel,” Green said.

I'm one of the first people to support people's rights to do something, even if they are endangering themselves. Ever see the shots from the beach during a hurricane where they show a couple of people surfing while the reporter begs people to stay away from the beach? I say go right ahead. The police shouldn't arrest them. Warn them they are putting their lives at risk and if they still want to do it, that's their right.

So in that way, I support what Laich has to say. I agree that a player should be able to make this decision on his own. But not the day of. A player in the moment probably isn't wise enough to make a rational decision on the matter. It's like a criminal trying to enter a plea when they are deemed incompetant. A court won't take it until the person is aware of what they are being charged with.

But where Laich loses me is not caring about awareness stuff, the discussion and quiet rooms. It's an important conversation and players need to be aware of the dangers and procedures. You know the old saying keep your friends close and your enemies closer? This is sort of the same idea. You need to know the ins and outs of concussions before you can make a truly informed decision on the matter, on your own health.

Hockey is a tough game, a sport filled with machismo. We know that. Guys still fight bare knuckles and tough out injuries all the time. It's not a sport where showing any perceived weakness is something a player wants to do. So I get where this is coming from.

I feel that what Laich and other players want to do with the information at their disposal is up to them. But the conversation is too important to tune out.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:37 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 2:50 pm

Isles' DiPietro out indefinitely with concussion

By Brian Stubits

At what point do you begin to feel sorry for Rick DiPietro? I mean, if there were ever a goalie that fit the old saying "if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all" it's him.

The injury-riddled goaltender for the Islanders is out again. He did not dress in the Islanders' romping of the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1 on Thursday night after taking a puck to the head in practice the day before. On Friday the team announced he's going to be out for longer as he suffered a concussion on the play. There is no timetable for his return.

As we have learned, there's no idea to know how long it will be until DiPietro might play again. Concussions are finnicky that way.

"You feel for him. The last couple of years it's been a lot for him," Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said when asked about his fellow New York-area netminder. "When you are hurt that much it's also really tough on you mentally to all the time having to start over and rehab"

Yesterday we detailed some of the struggles that DiPietro has undergone. In the past three seasons, he has played in only 39 games. For the non-math whizzes out there, that's only 13 games per season. When you consider he has a contract for $4.5 million a year (that runs through 2021), that's nearly $350,000 per game played in that time.

Good thing the Islanders were carrying three goalies on their roster, huh? Al Montoya was a somewhat surprising opening-night starter, but he has been terrific in the Islanders' three games, giving up a total of four goals. There's a completely capable backup behind him in veteran Evgeni Nabokov.

I don't know about you, but I feel for the guy and am almost at the point of rooting for DiPietro. The expectations on him were placed mighty high when New York drafted him No. 1 overall, made room for him by sending out Roberto Luongo and then gave him a monstrous contract.

His injury woes are almost beyond jokes at this point. The way I see it, I'd like to see DiPietro remain healthy long enough to play extended time. If he falls flat on his face then, that's on him. But I'd just like to see him get the chance one way or the other.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 9:43 am
Edited on: August 29, 2011 9:46 am

Daily Skate: Penguins coach Bylsma eyes U.S. job

By Brian Stubits

NATIONAL DREAM Dan Byslma isn't on any sort of hot seat as the Penguins coach, but he is looking for his next job. That's because Disco Dan has indicated he's interested in coaching the U.S. men's national team (via Sporting News) when the 2014 Olympics come around. ""I'd be more than willing to be a part of a staff, but my goal isn't just to be a part of a staff," the Michigan native said. "At least, the written goal is not just to be part of the staff."

CONCUSSION TALK CONTINUES: In the two-day Molson Export Quebec Hockey Summit in Quebec, the primary point of conversation surrounded the ongoing concussion talk (via Globe and Mail) and what some would call an epidemic in the NHL. With the possibility of Sidney Crosby missing more time, executives are perhaps looking at this issue even more seriously. Not that they weren't before, but Crosby's possible further absence seems to have spurred talks with one goal in mind: reducing concussions. Here's what Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier had to say: "“There are kids who suffer two or three concussions in a year and are pushed to keep playing. I can tell you that if one of my sons gets a concussion, his season is over.”

CAN KESSEL GET OVER THE HILL?: Obviously the Maple Leafs gave up a lot for Phil Kessel, so there expecting a lot from him. He's been an all-star since he came to Toronto, but the fans there are waiting to see more from their top player. That leads us to Maple Leafs Host Stove's burning question ... can Kessel score more than 40 this season? They take a stab at answering that question.

'CANES QUESTION: The Hurricanes was a middle-of-the-pack team as far as scoring last season, so it's not as if there was a drought in Carolina. But with one of the team's three 20-plus goal scorers from last season (Erik Cole) out of town, Chip Patterson at the News Observer wonders who will do the scoring for the 'Canes this season outside of Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner?

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Yes, the season is getting closer. Much closer. Just take a look at what's going on in Columbus' Nationwide Arena ... the ice is coming back (from @ddawley twitpic).

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: June 8, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 6:51 pm

GM's approve tweaks to headshot rule

BOSTON --- NHL general managers approved an expansion of the rule governing hits to the head of vulnerable players on Wednesday, another step in the process as the league attempts to curb concussions in the sport.

“Generally speaking, it’s taking Rule 48 and expanding it in a fashion that will protect players,” said Brendan Shanahan, a former NHL player and current league executive who made a presentation to the GMs. “This wouldn’t be a blanket rule where any contact to the head would be illegal. It’s not quite that far, but it’s more than we have right now.”

Rule 48, put into place at end of the 2009-10 season, made blindside hits to where an opponent’s head is targeted illegal. The new change would take the word “blindside” out and would include various other tweaks to in-game punishment – minor and major penalties --- along with supplemental discipline (suspensions).

The changes will need to be approved by the NHLPA Competition Committee --- which next meets on Monday --- then the league’s Board of Governors, who convene on June 21.

Former NHL player Rob Blake, who is also part of the NHL’s hockey operations office, said there was “some talk” of a blanket rule that would make any hits to the head --- like what exists under international hockey rules --- illegal, but such a rule lacked broad support.

“When we looked at broadening the head hit rule, we didn’t want to eliminate hitting,” Blake said. “You are going to have contact. You are going to have full-body hits. If you want a complete ban, those [hits] would have been ruled out. We didn’t want to go that far by any means. . . .The issue we have is targeting the head. That’s an illegal hit.”

The concussion issue was brought to the forefront again earlier this week when Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton suffered a severe concussion after a check from Vancouver’s Aaron Rome in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Rome as given a five-minute major for interference, ejected and eventually suspended for the durations of the finals.

Blake said the expanded Rule 48 would not include such collisions.

“If it happened in the exact same way, it’s still going to be an interference major,” Blake said.

Some of the general managers who emerged from the meeting said that they didn’t want to fundamentally change the product on the ice.

“I think people watch these interviews and say, ‘These guys don’t care about headshots,’” Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke said. “The tightrope we walk is that this is a full-contact sport. It always has been. It’s been a full-contact sport since we opened the doors for business. It’s one of the distinctive features of what we do. We don’t want to change that. We want to eliminate the really dangerous parts of the play, but you’re going to get hit and there are going to be injuries.”

-- A.J. Perez

Category: NHL
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