Concussions will not be the hot topic in the National Hockey League until someone does something about it. That's pretty clear. The issue more recently gained a lot of traction as Bryant Gumbel’s “Real Sports” show on HBO, which is titled “The NHL’s denial of CTE” has come out and had a strong impact on the link between hockey and head injuries. Last month, former Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo reached out to all 31 NHL teams and several players on Twitter in an effort to increase concussion awareness after the sad passing of his friend Steve Montador. Gumbel’s show features interviews with Paul Montador (father of Steve), Eric Lindros and Ken Dryden.
"Critics charge that in failing to admit the game has a problem, the league's leadership has also been slow to reform rules and policies that would protect their players," the HBO special detailed, "while about 150 former pros have filed a lawsuit against the NHL for failing to protect them from head injuries."
"We can do better," said Lindros, who suffered many concussions. “(Explicit) yeah, we can. We can do a lot better."
Maybe this new report will awaken some people in the NHL, and urge them to do what Lindros wants: a lot better! Chantal Machabbee of RDS has just reported that this season only, a total of six players of the Montreal Canadiens have suffered a concussion (translated from French on Twitter).
It all started on the wrong foot for forward Ales Hemsky... Back on October 20th, Hemsky was forced to leave the 6-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks with an upper-body injury after being on the receiving end of a pair of hard hits. Ever since, the 34-year-old veteran has suffered post-concussion symptoms, and now it has taken a toll on her personal life as he has revealed on Friday to La Presse's Richard Labbe that he is now pondering retirement.
"I don't know if I will be able to play anymore, it will be a hard decision," he explained to Labbe in a phone interview, translated from French. "In agreement with the team's doctors, we have decided to put an end to my season just recently. As for now, I keep talking to the team's specialists, and I am trying to get better. It's the most important thing right now. After that, it will be time for me to make a decision.
"I still want to play hockey. However retirement might be something I need to consider, even if I don't want to think about it right now."
Phillip Danault was very unlucky when he sustained a concussion after he got hit on the side of the head by a rising point shot from Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. He lay on the ice for several minutes receiving treatment from medical staff before being taken off on a stretcher. He finally returned to action, but it was another head injury for the Habs who also lost goaltender Al Montoya for a while with post-concussion symptoms. Once he was back on track, he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers.
Forward Andrew Shaw, who has a history of concussions, has suffered too many already for his career. Last spring, the gritty forward sustained a similar injury after a head-on collision with Brady Skeji in Game One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers. There were other intense hits in the remainder of the series, which forced Shaw to sit out during the sixth game of the first round. Probably the fight that took place against Brendan Smith during Game 5 didn't help...
In an interview with Sportsnet‘s Eric Engels, he revealed the extent of some of his symptoms saying adding he'd wake up in the middle of the night puking and worried if there was something really wrong with him: “I wasn’t sleeping right. My emotions were all out of whack; I’d be happy, angry, sad, irritated, anxiety — stuff I’d never experienced before… I was in my room in my house for a month in the dark with depression issues, being sad and miserable. My anxiety was through the roof."
After missing just over a month with a concussion, star goalie Carey Price returned to action to try and end the season on a high note. Price took a shot to the mask in a contest against the Philadelphia Flyers back in February.
The latest victim to fall to a concussion on the Habs roster is Nikita Scherbak. The 22-year-old forward suffered a concussion at some point in a 5-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
Scherbak joins captain Max Pacioretty, forwards Phillip Danault, Andrew Shaw and Ales Hemsky and defensemen Shea Weber and Victor Mete as Canadiens players who have suffered season-ending injuries.