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The Concussion Crisis, Player Safety, and more!

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It’s the Monday Edition of Links, News, and Notes!

Ottawa Senators v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images

Concussions in the NHL, and sports as a whole, are a hot-button issue right now, so today’s edition of LNN has a few important stories from that arena.

  • There are fewer pressing issues in the world of sports right now than that of concussions and traumatic brain injuries. In hockey especially, we’re continuing to see an alarming trend of athletes playing through repeated concussions. Just recently, Buffalo Sabres forward Kyle Okposo was revealed to suffer his fourth concussion in just under two and a half years, in the contest against Ottawa last week.
  • Also, Boston’s David Backes is returning to practice after the Scott Sabourin incident, where he sustained yet another concussion. In his three-year span with the Bruins alone, Backes has suffered four diagnosed concussions.
  • Likely the most vocal advocate for reform around the treatment of brain injuries has been former NHL-er Daniel Carcillo. He was featured on CBC’s The Fifth Estate, along with his family, and family members of former players that have suffered due to repeated head trauma. It’s really worth checking out.
  • For those of you who don’t know, this is an issue that hits home for me. I was a collegiate football player at the University of Toronto, before my career was cut short by post-concussive syndrome. Struggling with symptoms, and not knowing where to turn, I reached out to Daniel on Twitter for help, and he referred me to a functional neurology clinic that was able to help alleviate my symptoms, (P3 Health, in Toronto).

If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, I wrote about it in a piece for my friends with At the 55 Podcast. You can find it here.

  • While not concerning concussions, there were, unfortunately, other issues of player safety these past few days. St. Louis Blues forward Robert Bortuzzo was handed a four game suspension, for some pretty vicious crosschecks on Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators.

For those of you debating the severity of the ban, keep in mind that Arvidsson will be out of action for 4-6 weeks as a result of this play. Do with that what you will.

Kerfoot was shockingly only assessed a two-minute minor on the play, which is absurd. Johnson could have broken his neck going into the boards, and Kerfoot should have gotten five and a game.

[Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford] does present one problem, however: both goaltenders are set to become UFAs at season’s end. That Lehner isn’t locked into a long-term deal is particularly concerning, too, given he’s now in the second of what have been back-to-back standout seasons. If the Blackhawks retain the 28-year-old keeper, though, what does it mean for the 34-year-old Crawford? It’s unlikely he’ll find himself commanding anywhere near the $6 million cap hit he carries on his current deal, but would he take enough of a pay cut to be able to remain in the Windy City? Or, with his playing time halved due to Lehner’s presence, will Crawford look elsewhere for opportunities?