Morning Free Association: No Body Contact

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This weekend, former NHL player Eric Lindros spoke at a concussion symposium called See the Light. At it, he expressed his very specific viewpoint on what the NHL should do to prevent brain injuries: stop all body contact.

Over his 13 year career with the Flyers, Rangers, Leafs, and Stars, Lindros was a dominant forward who dealt with many injuries, many of them concussions. The 45-year-old Ontario native still plays hockey and feels that the game is exactly as fun and exhilarating without the body on body hits.

“Let’s get right to it,” Lindros said, according to the National Post. “You talk about me playing. I love hockey and I continue playing hockey. But it’s funny — the hockey I was playing all those years was really physical, and I have just as much fun (these days), but we don’t run into one another. We’re still having as much fun, the same enjoyment of it. We know concussions are down in a league without contact.”

As hard as it would be to imagine a game without body contact, the fun of a good, clean hit that rocks the other player momentarily, he’s essentially right; there is evidence that it’s not necessarily contact to the head that causes the brain injury, that a solid hit that jars the body can cause the brain to move when it shouldn’t. These subconcussive impacts occur repeatedly during the course of a game, a series, and a season without the player necessarily showing symptoms of a concussion from acute and sudden impact to the head of the player. Regardless of the way the injury happens, it affects the player for the entirety of their life.

What’s interesting is that while many players have come out against the NHL, have joined or sued the NHL separately, Lindros is making a different kind of statement, stating that the way the game has relied upon hits is not sustainable for players and that the game can still be great without it. However, the league has to accept that concussions are caused by the game in more ways than just head hits and that this type of injury affects the players for life. When they start accepting that part, maybe they’ll think of ways to protect players more.

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BagelBruin
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BagelBruin

The NHL has a weird paradox, perhaps hypocritical movement.

The game today is all about speed, mobility and skill. These talents are said to nullify heavy hitting, and perhaps even make bigger players who rely on body contact to be a great disadvantage.

In women’s hockey checking is not allowed. However, the game, to me, is still amazing. The women’s Olympic games were more entertaining then the men’s.

Now would be the time to phase out body contact. It’s less of a requirement in today’s game.

Satan 81's Sister
Editor
Satan 81's Sister

Morning all. I often feel like a hypocrite because I want hockey players to have a good quality of life when they retire and for the game to be as safe as possible for them. But at the same time I enjoy a good clean hit and they physical nature of the game. I’m also weird about fights. I know it’s fucking up their brains and I try to temper my excitement for a fight but I do kind of enjoy them. Staged fights can die in a fire, though.

imbiginjapan
Member
imbiginjapan

Yes I like the smashy-smashy and punchy-punchy as well and don’t want to see those things cut out entirely. I don’t shed too many tears for the NHL-level guys, even the lowest tier of which can make sufficient money in a career to live decently, and who generally seem to be a-ok with the risks. I guess what I ask is that the sport be honest and provide sufficient education that those risks are well known to all players, and the league provides sufficient support to players after their careers. Too often the moneymakers offload players’ health and mental problems onto the individuals as well as the public once the profit has been extracted.

Satan 81's Sister
Editor
Satan 81's Sister

Absolutely agree and very well said.

IntentionallyWidenberg
Admin
IntentionallyWidenberg

The guys I feel for the most are the AHL lifers and the guys in the ECHL – these guys get paid relatively poorly, and get beat up pretty good. AFAIK, they don’t have any sort of support network to help them out if their brains go all mushy when they get older.

imbiginjapan
Member
imbiginjapan

I totally agree. I was going to throw something in about low-level affiliates but didn’t want to dilute my original point too much. Ideally the big leagues would recognize the need to extend that education and support into the roots of the sport as well, as NHL players aren’t brought up in a vacuum. But then again I am a hopeless idealist.

IntentionallyWidenberg
Admin
IntentionallyWidenberg

Yeah, it kills me because I recognize the essential hypocrisy of my position, and stick my head in the sand wrt the potential accumulation of damage due to clean hits.
But I have a hard time picturing hockey without the heavy contact.

Satan 81's Sister
Editor
Satan 81's Sister

It’s really weird that I’m like “Hey barrel into each other for my enjoyment!”