Randy Carlyle has some theories on concussions. (USATSI)
Randy Carlyle has some theories on concussions. (USATSI)

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Joffrey Lupul had to leave Toronto's last game against the Philadelphia Flyers after he was on the receiving end of a big hit from Jay Rosehill and Adam Hall.

Naturally, this has been a big topic of discussion around the Maple Leafs, and it's led to coach Randy Carlyle making some interesting comments on concussions and head injuries.

No, maybe interesting isn't the right word.

How about outrageous?

First, Carlyle didn't want to use the word "concussion" when talking about Lupul's injury, saying, “No, that’s a bad word. We don’t use that word until we’re 100 percent sure on any of the situations. The term concussion in today’s world, sporting world, you want to be 100 percent sure before you start using that word.

“Until you know exactly what it is I don’t think you should make any statements. Everyone saw the hit, he got squeezed out, he was dazed and didn’t feel very good, so we sent him for an examination [Friday] morning, and they just said he was day-to-day.”

Carlyle admitted he's no expert and that as coaches they've all read medical journals that have been provided to them, but that they leave it to the player and medical staff to determine when the player is ready to return, no matter what the injury is.

But then Carlyle started to talk about his own theories, and that's where things just start to fly off the rails.

That theory, via Sportsnet's Michael Grange:

“I have a theory on concussions,” he said.  “I think the reason there’s so much more of them — obviously the impact and the size of the equipment and the size of the player  — but there’s another factor: everyone wears helmets, and under your skull when you have a helmet on, there’s a heat issue.

“Everyone sweats a lot more, the brain swells. The brain is closer to the skull. Think about it. Does it make sense? Common sense?” said Carlyle, who said he’d never talked to a doctor about his premise, which he was introduced to by Jim Pappin, the former Leaf who also played his career helmet free.

“I don’t know if it’s true, but that would be my theory. Heat expands and cold contracts. The brain is like a muscle, it’s pumping, it swells, it’s a lot closer to the outside of the skull.”

No, Randy. It doesn't really make sense.

Grange presented Carlye's theory to Dr. Charles Tator, the project director of the Canadian Sports Concussion Project at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital, and he doesn't believe it's anywhere close to reality. Tator said he didn't believe there was any evidence to suggest exercise makes the brain swell. He also added that, "scientifically it is unsound to think that the temperature underneath the head and the helmet is going to reflect the temperature of the brain. There are too many layers of tissues in between.

“The circulation of blood and other factors that dissipate temperature would prevent any outside change of temperature of a few degrees from getting the brain from getting into the brain. The theory doesn’t hold water."


Lupul's availability for Saturday night's game in New Jersey is not yet known. In 10 games this season he's scored eight goals to go with six assists. The Maple Leafs enter Saturday in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 44 points.