Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries Emerges as NHL Priority

Posted On: April 17, 2012 by Matthew D. Kaplan

They are not slickly produced but, arguably, ought to be up for some sort of award. Throughout the long hockey season the NHL has not only been assessing tough penalties on players who cross the line in what was already a rough sport: the league has been going out of its way to explain its decisions as part of hockey’s efforts to reduce traumatic brain injuries and other serious injuries to players.

As the season began the league hired Brendan Shanahan, a recently retired player known for his toughness throughout a long and distinguished NHL career, as its Senior Vice President of Player Safety. Enforcing new rules governing blind-side hits, hits to the head and other dangerous maneuvers, Shanahan has spent the season handing out suspensions both for moves that would have been legal a year go and for others that were never legal, even in the rough-and-tumble world of the NHL.

What is different is that these disciplinary actions are not announced merely with press releases from the league office. Every one of these suspensions is explained by Shanahan himself in videos posted on the league’s website. In these videos Shanahan replays video of the infraction in slow motion, usually from several angles, and explains in detail the reasoning that led both to a decision to suspend a player and to the particular punishment he has meted out. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in professional (or college) sports.

I have said in the past that the NHL deserves credit for the efforts it has made in recent years to take traumatic brain injuries seriously, as well as other injuries that can potentially be suffered while playing hockey. From a Portland brain injury lawyer’s perspective, it is important to know that people at the highest level of a sport take that sport’s dangers seriously. Professionals set an important example for athletes at every lower level of their sport. When the NHL demonstrates its seriousness concerning player safety that cannot help but have good effects on minor league, college and youth players and coaches alike.


NHL.com Player safety videos