Former Rangers Forward Leading The Push For NHL Concussion Reform

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USA Today

Our Beloved Sport

Hockey is considered one of the most dangerous and violent sports on the planet. We all take great pride in not only being fans of the New York Rangers but of the game itself. 

A great quote from Scotty Bowman basically summarizes the game of hockey. “High sticking, tripping, slashing, spearing, charging, hooking, fighting, unsportsmanlike conduct, interference, roughing……everything else is just figure-skating.”

But those are the things that give not only us Rangers fans, but fans of the game a reason to watch. Many of us have played the game in some capacity, and we understand the grit and self-sacrifice it takes to win. Respect and admiration are mostly earned on the ice, not off of it. But with that self-sacrifice comes a grim reality that shares the spotlight of why this game is so popular.

Hockey is a war zone. The ice is the battlefield and both sides will give everything it takes to achieve one goal.

The Dark Truth

“They’re just … gone. And the more I think about them, and how their lives ended up, the more worried I get. Because I see a lot of myself in those guys. I really do. And I often wonder if I might be next.” – Nick Boynton/The Players Tribune

Boynton explains in very personal detail his daily tribulations as a retired NHL enforcer. The after effects of daily beating to his brain has turned him from a tough guy into a battered man. His story is a very deep one and gives you thought as to who else may be suffering the same fate as Boynton, in our game today.

Complimenting Nick Boynton and his efforts of shedding light on the physical and mental wounds he suffered as a part of the game is former Rangers forward Daniel Carcillo. Carcillo has taken to the Players Tribune as well to tell his story and bring awareness to the growing problem that is plaguing players once their careers are over.  

His detail of how his speech has begun to slur and every day’s mood would vary to the next. In conjunction with this piece, Carcillo is also a founder of Chapter 5 Foundation, to help athletes over many different sports to adjust to life after their career is over. Adjusting to life after hockey, to bettering their brand or social relationships, to even finding appropriate and needed help for situations such as Carcillo and Boynton.

NHL’s Take

The NHL is denying any link between the game of hockey and post-career head injuries like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE.

“Near the end of the interview, Carlin asked him if he believed the league was doing all that could be done about concussions in the NHL. Bettman paused, then said, “We are doing all that we think is appropriate.” – Ken Dryden/The Athletic

It is revolting to see a commissioner of one of the four major sports in the United States bluntly say they are doing everything possible to prevent these types of injury when it seems pretty clear that the opposite is true. Not only from the point of these two articles from the Players Tribune but of the deaths surrounding the game in Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak to name a few. And then you read an article like this afterword and it makes you wonder, are they really doing what is appropriate?

Could the National Hockey League be trying to hold the truth from the players and the public of just how serious this issue is?

New York Rangers

This issue even affects our New York Rangers. Mike Richter had to end his career early from two concussions sustained in an eight-month period. Jeff Beukeboom suffered constant headaches and lack of concentration once his career was over, this punch was one of many blows to the head of the rugged defenseman.

 

Then there was the hit that eneded the promising young career of Michael Sauer. And finally, Derek Boogaard lost his life battling against the brain trauma, and subsequent drug addiction, he sustained over the course of his career. These three are just a sliver of the NHL’s past players dealing with head injuries.

Marc Staal has notoriously had issues since his concussion sustained in the 2011-12 season. Last season, Mika Zibanejad and Jimmy Vesey missed considerable time with concussions. Zibanejad missed nine games and Vesey missed three. Injuries do happen during a season, not many players make it the whole 82, but an injury to the head leaves its mark on a player.

Negative Attention

What Carcillo is doing to try and bring light to this issue is a good thing, despite some individuals saying otherwise. Everyone has a right to their opinion but the facts are the facts. Carrillo’s reputation as a player has earned him his critics, but what he’s doing now should be praised.

Recent News

Carcillo was interviewed by Carlin, Maggie, and Bart on WFAN Radio about the Players Tribune articles and his view of the NHL Players Association.

“The NHLPA is an absolute joke, Donald Fehr, Matthieu Schneider, Steve Webb, Rob Zabner should all step down and all be ******* ashamed of themselves.”

In addition to being very verbal against the NHLPA, Carcillo has decided, very recently, to join a potentially game-changing lawsuit against the National Hockey League.

Carcillo has also taken to Twitter even more recently to speak on Commissioner Bettman’s perspective on the link between CTE and the former NHL enforcers untimely deaths.

What comes of this allegation and back and forth argument on the state of physicality in hockey will not be solved quickly. There are two sides divided with powerful voices that can change the state of hockey as we know it.

Still, you have to admire Carcillo and Boynton for stepping out of their comfort zone and elaborating on their deepest and darkest nightmares. Their sacrifice of pride as a tough guy, to help the next group of players going through post career head trauma is astounding and should be applauded.

One comment

  • Wow, this is a tough topic to discuss! I have been a Ranger fan for more than 60 years, so it’s safe to say I’ve seen LOTS of hockey!
    I have never played hockey, though I have played organized baseball (high school) and sandlot softball, football, handball, paddleball,and racquetball over the years, so I feel I can see sports from an experienced eye.
    Everyone that has played any sport realizes that injuries can occur at any time–most of which are minor. It’s also obvious that hockey and football are tough, brutal games; there is NO doubt about that! No-one that has played these sports have been FORCED to play, though the reasons are different for everyone that has played them. Let’s stick to hockey.
    Back in the days, A case can be made for young kids (that were not blessed with lots of economic choices) saw hockey as a means to an end. The glory, the fame, the money, the recognition was a REAL motivator for these kids. Therefore inadvertant ignorance regarding physical and mental injuries played a part in their decisions throughout their careers. That’s understandable!
    BUT, in today’s game, MANY Kids are college educated people who are aware of the risks, and have deliberatley chosen to participate in the game REGARDLESS of the risks involved.
    The question is: what can we do to lessen or eliminate injuries that are life threatening. If we go the route of “protection” and “better equipment”, soon we wind up with players that wll not even be able to PLAY the game when dressed “safely”! If we change the game to eliminate injury by limiting physical contact, we quickly destroy the game.
    If personal safety and health is paramount to the player, he will choose not to play,
    There is no practical way to eliminate injuries altogether.
    How much influence the league should (or will) wield in mandating safety equipment is the sticking point!
    Ultimately, The decision MUST remain with the individual player.

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