Brain Injuries and The NHL: Hard to Believe These Hard Heads!

It’s hard to believe the hard heads in the NHL that don’t seem all that interested in preventing brain injuries and concussions. The N.H.L began its preseason with a tightened Rule 48, which outlaws most checks to the head as part of the leagues’ response to the spate of concussions in hockey.

However, the N.H.L did not fully outlaw head contact as done by the International Ice Hockey Federation, The N.C.A.A. and the Ontario Hocky League. Seven of the 17 NHL top players interviewed said they would prefer the full ban; four said no; and six stated they were not certain. Fifteen year veteran, Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes disagrees with the full ban stating that “(sic) that’s not the way our sport is designed. If you’d have to change the whole sport, well, you have to be careful of what you wish for.” While illegal hits are clear cut cases, it was legal hits that lead to concussions that provided the final impetus for change. While initially the 2010-2011 change to Rule 48 read that “a lateral or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact ‘is not permitted’; it was changed after a series of more high-profile concussions occurred during the year. The scope of rules on boarding and on hits to the head was widened to remove the “lateral or blindside” provision, making “any” making potentially illegal any hit to the head, regardless of the direction from which it is delivered.

The personal injury lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have been Chicago hockey fans for over 25 years. During those 25 years, we have advocated for victims of brain injuries and concussions sustained from motor vehicle accidents, work accidents, falls and sports injuries. Brain injuries are being linked to a myriad of illnesses and conditions, many which may not occur until much later in life. If there exists a potential to prevent these tragic injuries, whether through protective gear or practices, it should not be ignored and in the case of sports and the workplace-strictly enforced. Remember it is always better to stay safe-but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe.

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Grazian & Volpe, Part of the Lloyd Miller Law Group