I have been pretty busy kids, and I have missed a lot, but the recent wave of Flyers concussions is making MY frigging head hurt. It was announced today that James van Riemsdyk is out indefinitely with a concussion. Sooooo...let's see. Pronger. Read. Giroux...and now JVR. I have been ruminating for a while now, on who or what is the cause of the recent wave of concussions, and I have come to the conclusion that there is one person that this can all be blamed on. Yeah, those of you that know my hockey views can guess who I am pinning this one on....yeah, you guessed it. Gary Bettman. Yes, I have myriad reasons for hating Gary Bettman, the first being that we have JVR at all, when we should have Patrick Kane. Who scored the Stanley Cup winning goal. In Philadelphia. For Chicago. But I digress...Shall we discuss how Gary Bettman has caused the concussion epidemic in the NHL, and not just the concussions I get by banging my head against the wall every time I think about "that" goal?
Yeah, that goal. Anyway, back to Gary Bettman. Not ONLY did he change the NHL draft from a straight worst to first to a "weighted lottery", he got rid of the red line. Yes, I know there is still a red line, but it used to actually MEAN something. For you young 'ens, there used to be something called a two line offside pass. To simplify, passes could only go over one line at a time. Those pretty stretch passes, that go from end to end? Nope. They weren't legal. Yes, the removal of the red line has made the game faster, but at what cost? The players are bigger, and have an entire sheet of ice to build up speed. Now, I was never a whiz at physics, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the faster two players are going when they hit, the harder the impact is going to be. Just watch Claude Giroux, whose concussion was caused by his own team mate.
That hit made MY teeth rattle. My point is, take a look at how fast the players are going. I understand that Bettman thought that making the game faster would bring more fans, and yes, hockey has more fans now. What it also has is two of it's most promising young players struggling with head injuries. While I don't LIKE Sidney Crosby, I would hate to see his career ended by a concussion. And Giroux? I obviously want to see him lift Lord Stanley's Cup in a Flyers jersey, not in a broadcast booth because of a career ending concussion. If slowing the game down loses a few fans, so be it. At least those that remain will be able to watch the best players have long, fulfilling careers.
Another way to stop the head shots? Stop trying to get rid of the fights. I know, I know, not very PC, but when have I ever pretended to be PC? Yes, Brendan Shanahan is doing a good job handing out the suspensions, but I personally think the players can handle it just as well, if not better. A suspension might cost a player money, but I think that knowing you are going to get the shit kicked out of you if you take a cheap shot at a star player is just as much a deterrent as a suspension.
If a player knew an ass beating like that was waiting, I think they might think twice before taking a run at Claude Giroux. Or any other Flyer. Fighting is a part of the tradition of hockey...a game of honor, where the players take care of each other. Gary Bettman loves to wax nostalgic about the traditions of hockey, during press conferences for the Winter Classic...but does he understand the traditions? Does he know that I still say the Flyers are in the Patrick Division and the Wales Conference? Considering that he wants to screw with the divisions again, I doubt it. So, Mr. Bettman, while you are crying about head shots and concussions, and looking for a cause, look no further than your bath room mirror. This is the NHL YOU wanted, sir. Are you happy?