Depending on whether you're a half-full or half-empty type, you may be pleased hockey welcomed back Sidney Crosby, David Perron, Ryan Miller, Nicklas Backstrom, Joni Pitkanen and several others from concussions at some point this season, and that the Canucks, Bruins and Blackhawks remain hopeful they will see the return of Daniel Sedin, Nathan Horton and Jonathan Toews, respectively, in the playoffs later this month.
Or you may be distressed that far too many NHLers like Chris Pronger, Carey Price, Simon Gagne, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Mike Sauer still have cloudy immediate or long-term futures because of a concussion.
We'll see how the Stanley Cup playoffs evolve through the next two months. We'll see if another head injury or another headshot controversy materializes this spring. But before the postseason begins next week, we need to review the 2011-12 NHL season, the Season of the Concussion.
The numbers are staggering. When the regular season concludes on Saturday, almost 90 players and 1,700 man games will be lost to head injuries or concussion-related symptoms. Some players sat out as little as a game. Meanwhile, Blue Jackets defenceman Radek Martinek will miss 75 games because of a concussion he suffered in his seventh game back on Oct. 21.
The Blues have been hit the hardest with more than 160 man-games lost. Perron, Andy McDonald, Alex Steen, Carlo Colaiacovo, Matt D'Agostini and Kris Russell all missed time this season with a head injury. The Wild and Penguins were next at with 120 and 145, respectively, with three nights to go.
There were some eyebrows raised at the NHL general manager meetings, when the predominant thought among the GMs was that enough was being done to curb concussions. Really?
Yes, players are bigger, faster and stronger. Yes, the culture among NHLers has changed. It is no longer cool to play through a head injury. In fact, players are more cautious and stay on the sidelines longer when they're dealing with a head injury. That awareness has played a big role in why concussion numbers have increased.
But still we have seen players not report symptoms. The Canadiens admitted Price played four games after his initial run-in with Montreal forward David Desharnais in practice on Mar. 20. Maple Leafs forward Colby Armstrong hid a concussion earlier this season that was caught on when he became nauseous.
Both had headaches. Both didn't seek immediate medical attention. They continued to play or practice, and we've seen from other players who continue to play after absorbing a headshot in this sort of situation usually results in a longer stay away from the game.
Sure some concussions occur because of accidental incidents. Columbus goalie Steve Mason was hit in the head by a puck in practice. Pronger was struck by the stick of Toronto centre Mikhail Grabovski on a follow through. Philadelphia centre Claude Giroux was hit in the head by the knee of teammate Wayne Simmonds.
But what are the answers here? Should visors be grandfathered in? Should suspensions for headshots escalate further? How central will the NHL's concussion problem be in the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations with the players?
We'd hope the answer is yes to all those questions above. In the meantime, it's on to the Stanley Cup playoffs when the attention on the NHL is at its greatest. We'll see if the Season of the Concussion continues in this two-month journey.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?