Hits To The Head
Sidney Crosby was back on the ice of the Consul Energy Center today – happy as a clam – for the first time since January 5th.
It’s easy to recall the night he sustained his concussion while playing Tampa Bay, because since then, continuous in-depth news coverage surrounding the “invisible injury” and its harmful effects on hockey players has been unending (at least in Canada).
As with any hockey injury, particularly involving Canada’s golden boy, came the expected cross-country debate about fighting in hockey. Cue that familiar argument where one side (Don Cherry) says it’s been part of the game forever and it’s entertainment we’re paying for, where the other argues that it brings out the bad in kid-hockey players and promotes checking and aggression on minor league ice.
Fans could argue for days over the effects of concussions, whether they’re serious, and why hockey gets all the blame when sports like rugby and football presumably have the same if not more incidents of head injury.
Another reason why the concussion headlines may be popping up pre-season is last week’s announcement that the court date has finally been set to settle one of the most controversial hits in hockey history – the career-ending sucker-punch-to-the-noggin then-Canuck Todd Bertuzzi gave Steve Moore in a game against the Colorado Avalanche on March 8, 2004.
Moore was knocked unconscious and hasn’t played an NHL hockey game since. He’s seeking $38 million in damages for money he would have gone on to make in his career, and whatever brain injury he incurred by being knocked unconscious on the ice.
Bertuzzi isn’t protected by the NHL and will have to pay that money out-of-pocket.
Some fans find it shocking that he hasn’t offered Moore a dime of his salary since the incident seven years ago. It’s hard to watch the replay and not see how a punch in the head from behind was gutless, pre-meditated and uncalled for.
The issue of hits to the head deserves all the news coverage it gets, and should continue to be discussed in the NHL - brain damage is a serious thing. But at the same time, the thought of thrown gloves, torn jerseys, bloody ice, or head injuries ceasing to exist completely in hockey, is unfortunately pretty far fetched.
Weigh in folks. Give us your take below. We’re all ears!