24 February 2011
While not everyone likes Crosby, in fact many of you love to hate him, he is one of two of the most recognizable faces in hockey right now (not that I have to remind of you of that). And since January the 5th, when the Lightning played against the Pens in Pittsburgh, his face has been missing from hockey. Outside of that Tim Horton's commercial which I have seen a ridiculous amount due to the Heritage Classic, we have not seen highlights or interviews from Sidney Crosby. Some of you might be happy with that, but if we think of the sport as larger than our individual likes/dislikes of different players, we can see the NHL has lost of their most important marketing tools to grow the sport.
Who knows if it was the hit from David Steckel or the hit from Victor Hedman that caused the concussion, in the end, we are still left with Crosby suffering through an injury to his brain. That's a big deal that I don't think many people grasp. We just use say 'oh this player is out with a concussion...' but do we really know what that means? Do we grasp how serious a brain injury is? If you've had one, maybe you do, but I find that the seriousness of the injury seems to have lost its impact with the word being used so casually.
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I am not one to vehemently defend my own player just because he is on my team, so I'm not going to sit here and defend Hedman's hit. I dont' think there was an intention to injure, but I think it was reckless and sometimes recklessness ends with just as disastrous outcomes.
Neither player was fined or suspended, and therein lies the problem: no punishment.
Obviously in a perfect world where the players want to protect themselves and each other, they would have a sit down and agree to be more conscientious about trying to make the game safer. But that clearly hasn't happened. Some players don't respect each other enough to not make the dirty play or make a hit that might injure someone because there is no fear of being punished. There is no decision to alter your action away from a careless hit because there is no deterrent.
And that's what Arthur ends up saying with his article, that there is not a harsh enough punishment out there for hits to the head. But that even a concussion that takes their star player out of the game for 2+ months isn't enough for the NHL to make a sweeping change to their discipline structure, then you gotta ask, how bad does the injury have to be? Or will things ever change?