It's October, and you know what's really hot this time of year? Concussions. Looking at the Sens, Ryan Shannon is out with what is believed to be a concussion, and Anton Volchenkov almost certainly gave one to Viktor Stalberg on Tuesday night. Jared Boll of the Blue Jackets, Derek Boogaard and Pierre-Marc Bouchard of the Wild, James Van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers and Andreas Lilja of the Red Wings are just some of the other names currently sidelined with head injuries - and the season has only just begun.
I'm not going to lecture you too much about the seriousness of concussions - I'll leave that to the doctors and scientists who know far more about the topic. Also, I'm not going to get into the hits that cause them, because James Mirtle had a good, concise piece yesterday on hits that cause concussions. What I will say is that I'm blown away that despite around 7-12% of NHL players getting a concussion every season, and over 750 concussions having been recorded in the NHL since 1997, players aren't taking a very simple step to prevent this from happening to them: wearing a helmet designed to address this problem.
You possibly read on other websites about the M11 helmet that Mark Messier is promoting, or perhaps you heard him talking about it at great lengths during the Senators/Rangers game Saturday. According to Moose's most recent blog, only eleven NHL players are wearing this helmet (including two Senators: Chris Phillips, Jesse Winchester)
So, let's think this through: the odds of getting a concussion in today's NHL are dangerously high, and concussions have been known to ultimately end someone's career (not to mention the grave long-term effects they can have on other aspects of your life outside of sports). Furthermore, important players to a franchise can miss key games because of this, meaning its in the interest of coaches, GMs, and teammates that players are wearing the M11. And yet only eleven players are willing to wear a helmet that could be the difference? Is Don Cherry making fun of players who wear it, like he does for guys wearing visors? There's really no excuse to not be wearing one of these helmets - and I don't want to hear anyone say "Well, maybe they're uncomfortable." Yeah? So are seatbelts, but you're an idiot for not wearing those, too.
There's nothing macho about players who opt not to wear something that could save their careers, or even their lives. Coaches should be encouraging every player in the lineup to put on this helmet for the benefit of their franchise, and players should be sporting it for the sake of their career, their teammates, and most importantly - themselves and their families.