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Injuries, Concussions piling up


English: Claude Giroux, #28 of the Philadelphi...

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Whether you’re a fan or a fantasy hockey player, this week has seen enough injuries to top players to last a month. We all know about Sidney Crosby and his concussion-like symptoms making a haunting return, but other stars have been piling into the infirmary at an alarming rate. Let’s review:

Claude Giroux who’s been an absolute stud for the Flyers is out indefinitely with a concussion after a head injury sustained in last weeks matchup with Tampa Bay. Teammate Wayne Simmonds inadvertently delivered a knee to Giroux’s head in that game. GM Paul Holmgren said that the treatment for now with Giroux’s worsening symptoms will be rest. Giroux leads the NHL with 39 points and all Flyer’s scorers with 16 goals and 2 assists.

Also banged up in Philly is Chris Pronger (Concussion-Like Symptoms) and Brayden Schenn (Concussion). Pronger has been out for almost a month and an update on his condition is expected today while Schenn took part in the teams practice yesterday.

Update: Chris Pronger will be shelved for the balance of the season due to lingering effects from severe post concussion syndrome. The announcement came from GM Paul Holmgren during Philly’s game versus Montreal. The two time Olympic Gold Medalist signed a 7 year contract with the Flyers in 2009 and it will be interesting to see if the 37 year old defenseman can recover by next season. 

Meanwhile, the NHL’s goal scoring leader Milan Michalek for the Senator’s is also concussed. Michalek apparently suffered the concussion after colliding at full speed with teammate Erik Karlsson in Tuesday nights matchup with the Sabres. Ottawa coach Paul MacLean did seem to have a great deal more optimism for his star player saying that he seemed much better yesterday but is still going to be listed as day to day.

And, as if the Hurricane’s needed any more bad news (who’d have thought that after firing your coach, trading an offseason acquisition that was signed to a juicy contract only to sputter and not produce, dropping 16 of your last 20 and bottom feeding the Eastern Conference standings that things could get any worse), the team announced yesterday that the reigning Rookie of the Year Jeff Skinner and defenseman Joni Pitkanen are both out indefinitely with concussions.

Skinner, who last year became the first Carolina player to win the Calder Trophy and currently leads the team with 12 goals ad 24 points took a shot in their game last Wednesday in Edmonton, and has been scratched from the Cane’s past 2 games with a constantly shifting injury category (flu like symptoms last week became undisclosed injury two nights ago) before yesterday’s announcement was made. Pitkanen has been the Cane’s top scoring defensemen to this point with 12 points and 9 assists.

So far this season (or just this week, even), the addition of more top flight players to the list of concussed or possibly concussed (lest we forget Kris Letang and Marc Staal are also in limbo) puts a huge exclamation point on the topic of concussions in the NHL which has been a controversial subject for several years and has become even more prominent with the Sidney Crosby story getting media attention daily for the 10 months that he was out and the week and a half since he got injured again.

Just like in the NFL, before Concussion became a naughty word, players in both leagues used to play through it. Now, as modern neuroscience unlocks the mysteries of a concussion and its’ long term effects, teams and players have a greater understanding and can take greater caution with their injuries. Will this stop players who’ve had their clocks cleaned from trying to go back on the ice or take to the gridiron? Of course not. Athletes are competitors. They are different than most people in their unyielding drive for results, even at the expense of their own bodies.

Both leagues though have done a great job of removing the player from the field of play in these situations and a great assist to this has been not just in recognizing the symptoms when they occur but also the implementation of ImPACT testing. Gone are the days of getting a player back out on the field or ice to gain short term results at the expense of a players long term health. After all, when you watch a game, do you want to see your stars healthy and coherent enough to make great plays year in and year out?

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