The NHL is right – No one gets hurt in a hockey fight – DOH!

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14:  Ladislav Smid #5 of t...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
This probably not good for Canada’s overall image as we move to
a better place and more respect on the world stage.

Pardon my Eruption
Terrance Gavan
Apropos of a recent dust up between New York Rangers forward Sean Avery and Edmonton’s Lav ‘The Impalee’ Smid, fans, pundits and players are gabbing.
   “Avery’s gutless,” says one player.
   “He’s a worm,” says another.
   “Lemme at him … lemme, lemme at him … I’ll moider da’ bum,” spits Sylvester the Cat.
   “Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid didn’t skate Monday morning at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park after taking a sneak punch flush in the kisser from New York Rangers antagonist Sean Avery Sunday,” writes the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson. “He might not play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
   “While the Oilers aren’t throwing out the ‘concussion’ word, Smid did take a ripping blow to the head from Avery and had to be helped off the ice at Madison Square Garden.”
   First, I couldn’t give a tinker’s diddle about Avery.

   Take a close look at the wording of the pundit.
   Matheson whispers the “concussion word” almost as if he’s trading freemason secrets.
   Grab a pair Jim.
   I saw it six times and I’ll guarantee that Smid has a concussion.
   The Oilers won’t open it up because of new rules instituted by the NHL to take care of players who suffered head trauma in the line of duty.
   Duty in this case should not include the delivery of an unimpeded haymaker thrown at the head of an unsuspecting combatant.
   It’s odd.
   The NHL policing concussions while supporting legalized pugilism.
   Brighter guys than me, Harvard lawyers (hello Brian Burke) say fighting can’t be removed.
   Why?
   “Consequences,” I’m told. “Implications,” they say. “Ah shut up ya’ wimp.”
   Point taken.
   I like to reference Plato on sticky matters re essential attributes of what’s right and who’s wrong.
   I pulled out my old dog-eared copy of the Republic and chomped down on a few passages.
   Plato realized that it goes against the grain of human nature to accept direction without question.
   And I’m calling BS.
   I don’t believe the NHL pres’ Gary Bettman; I don’t believe the vice-pres Collie Campbell; and I don’t believe that slick-talking Harvard brief who also seems to be upchucking all over his side of the bargain with MLSE.
   Why?
   Because we’re throwing dice with lives kiddoes.
   We’re setting precedents for kids according to standards – ugly standards – set by a professional sports body that speaks from both sides of its great gaping gob.
   It would be ironic if it was funny.
   It’s not. It’s serious.
   Last week the Globe and Mail reported from a symposium on concussions in hockey.
   In the article, former Drummondville Voltigeurs winger Kevin Mailhiot told the conference and Globe writer Sean Gordon that he remembers most of his concussions.
   “The first one, he thinks, came when he was pushed into the boards head-first in atom hockey – he would have been 10 or 11,” says Gordon. “Six more concussions – ‘at least, could be more’ – followed over the next decade, including one while playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League that briefly resulted in respiratory arrest and was followed a day later by a disorienting overnight train ride home.”
   “I cried non-stop from Moncton to Amqui, which is about five hours. I didn’t stop because I wasn’t sad any more, just because I was too exhausted,” said Mailhiot.
   The former junior star is now 24 and a recent law school graduate. He recounted his tale last weekend at that symposium in Montreal, sponsored by Hockey Canada and the Dr. Tom Pashby Sports Safety Fund. Gordon reports that it’s part of an ongoing series of workshops being held from Whitehorse to St. John’s this year.
   A recent medical report filed by a phalanx of researchers said that doctors and minor hockey players are calling for changes to rules and attitudes as evidence shows that concussions are taking an even greater toll on players than researchers had realized.
   A Canadian study, published in the November issue of the journal Neurosurg Focus, found the injuries are seven times more common than previously reported for players in their late teens and early 20s and that many of those most closely involved with the sport aren’t taking the injuries seriously.
   “You don’t suck it up and try to play through a concussion, if you do, it will get worse, we need to convince athletes this is different from other injuries,” said Jamie Kissick, a former Ottawa Senators team doctor, who also attended last weekend’s symposium.
   From your lips to God’s ears Dr. Kissick.
  Unfortunately, in this case, god is Gary Bettman.
  And he’s aided and abetted by a juggernaut of angels, known collectively as the Board of NHL Governors.
   They aren’t beholden to codes of ethics.
   They couldn’t give a crap about concussions, head trauma or the rising tide of evidence that says young men and kids are suffering as a result of early and repeated injuries to the noodle.
   No the Board of Governors in this top-down paradigm are interested in one thing and one thing only.
   Fighting puts seats in the seats.
   Their fealty?
   Simple.
   “In God we Trust.”
   And sadly.
   The buck stops there.

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