Canadiens forward Dale Weise gets levelled by Rangers defenceman John Moore during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. While the team wouldn’t admit to anything more than a ‘body injury,’ it was apparent to most that Weise suffered a concussion later in the game on another Moore hit.
Photograph by: Allen McInnis, The Gazette
The National Hockey League still has a long way to go when it comes to dealing with concussions.
The NHL, its teams and players all display a cavalier attitude when it comes to concussions. At a time when the NHL professes its commitment to ridding the game of hits to the head and at a time when the league is facing lawsuits from former players who claim the NHL hasn’t done enough to prevent debilitating head injuries, the folks at the top are burying their heads in the sand.
The NHL and the players’ association came up with a protocol when it comes to dealing with head injuries. It would be a positive step toward dealing with the head injuries if anyone took it seriously. But teams and players continue to circumvent the protocol by denying a player has suffered a concussion.
The latest case in point involves Canadiens forward Dale Weise, who missed Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers with what Montreal coach Michel Therrien described as a “body injury.”
I’m not a doctor and I’ve never played one on television, but all my experience covering sports tells me that Weise suffered a concussion when he was hit in the head by the Rangers’ John Moore in the third period of Game 5. Weise was knocked to the ice and then lost his balance as he got to his feet. Weise’s eyes were glazed as P.K. Subban grabbed him and steadied him. In boxing, the referee would have been giving Weise a standing eight-count. Weise needed assistance as he made his way to the locker room.
Less than five minutes of playing time elapsed before Weise returned to the ice. When Therrien was asked whether Weise had been subjected to the concussion protocol mandated by the league, he said Weise had gone to the “quiet room” and had been cleared by doctors to return.
The one problem with the timing is that the protocol outlines a number of steps that a player has to go through before returning. Columbus defenceman James Wisniewski, who has a history of concussions, avoided the quiet room in the first round of the playoffs by saying he had a back injury. The former Canadien later admitted he didn’t want to miss the 20 minutes required for the concussion testing. If a player is a quick study, the concussion testing can be done in as little as 15 minutes, but Weise was in the room for a mere nine minutes.
It should be noted that the players are complicit in hiding head injuries. They know that once someone utters the word concussion, they are out for at least a week. Concussions are treated differently than other injuries. If you bruise a rib, you can jump right back in if you can handle the pain. The Rangers’ Derek Stepan missed only one game with a broken jaw and there are numerous players who have already scheduled surgery in the off-season.
By classifying it as a ”body injury” Weise was free to return without undergoing any of the concussion tests designed to protect him.
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