NHL Week in Review (November 24-30)

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Concussions in sports have taken the majority of headlines for the last few years as it has been the focus of every contact sport. The rise in concussion awareness has come about because of one simple factor. Concussions are a lot less of a mystery now than it was in the past as studies have been done on the effects that repeated head trauma can have. The issues of former football players and former hockey players have been seen more and more throughout the last few years. Cases of CTE have been seen more and more along with dementia and depression and the concerns over health of former and current players has increased. Leagues have taken plenty of measures to protect their players, whether it goes far enough or not, as they look to find the balance between keeping the physical aspect of the game while protecting their players. It is a tough thing to do but the leagues are looking to make progress towards the delicate balance. As the leagues look to make the games safer, rules have been changed to try to help the current players. This is not the biggest concern though as the biggest issue has been what these leagues have done and are doing for those men who have given everything and no longer play. The retired players are sometimes the forgotten members of the leagues. They are the people who are currently dealing with the issues that have come thanks to the punishment they took when they played in the league. The support that these players get is the source of much debate with many players spending much more than their pensions give them to deal with issues that have come thanks to the punishment they suffered while playing. Add this to the theory that leagues have kept the knowledge of concussions secret for years and there is an environment of distrust that leads to retired players looking to get what they think they deserve. This would happen in the NFL when a number of retired players filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL. The lawsuit was based on the thought that the players took major damage in games without knowing the real risks while the NFL would not tell them what the real risks were. The retired players would claim that the NFL hid the knowledge of just how devastating hits could be in terms of head injuries and in turn claimed the NFL knew the concerns before the recent revelations and that they put players’ lives in danger. The NFL players would not go to court instead taking the settlement that NFL offered in the amount of $765 million. Seeing the result of the NFL lawsuit, and not only the money, a NHL lawsuit would be brought this week claiming the same things. This NHL lawsuit reportedly was in the works long before the NFL lawsuit was settled but there is little doubt that the NFL lawsuit pushed the former NHL players to bring their own lawsuit to the forefront. The NHL lawsuit is on the same plane as the NFL lawsuit as it claims that the NHL as a whole lied to former players about the danger of repeated hits to the head. It claims that the NHL knew that concussions were more serious and that they knew how to treat them long before they implemented any precautions. It claims that the NHL has essentially looked to make changes now because their secret was finally exposed and that former players were in much more danger than they believed while the NHL could have told them. The lawsuit in no way will reach the settlement of the NFL for the simple fact that the NHL does not have $765 million to give to the players in the suit. That type of settlement would bury the NHL that is really just beginning to get their feet under them in terms of their business stability. There is no way that the NHL can afford a settlement like the one in the NFL but a settlement is something that is possible. For one thing the NHL would prefer that the lawsuit goes away as soon as it can rather than dragging it to court and dealing with the questions throughout the court battle. The players in the suit would also not be happy with a court battle as the cost and time would not be worth whatever they get. Two sides know what they want and the settlement is likely to come but it will be the effect that this lawsuit has for the future that will be the lasting impression. The lawsuit could very well force the hand of the NHL in taking drastic steps to improve player health including removing fighting from the game. Time will tell though and this lawsuit is far from over as it will remain a major story for the better part of a year as both sides begin to negotiate a settlement for retired players that could change the NHL forever.


(Thoughts on the past week in the NHL)

Game Change for Canada
It is no secret that hockey is Canada’s national sport and that there is little to no limits to the love of hockey in the country so any TV network with national rights instantly become one of the biggest and that would happen this week when Rogers and CBC would shell out $5.2 billion for the national rights to the NHL leaving Bell, aka TSN, out in the cold

Erat Wants out
Trade rumours are circling and in Washington it is the player that is bringing the rumours as Martin Erat has requested a trade less than a year after being traded to Washington Erat wants out of the team leaving plenty of rumours as to where he will go

Canadian Legend Future Uncertain
The new mega TV deal in Canada has left one broadcasting legend out as Coach’s Corner commentator Don Cherry will now be at the whims of Rogers who will take control over CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada and will decide whether Don Cherry’s career continues


NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins (38)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (33)
3. Montreal Canadiens (33)
4. Detroit Red Wings (33)
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (31)
6. Ottawa Senators (24)
7. Florida Panthers (19)
8. Buffalo Sabres (14)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (37)
2. Washington Capitals (30)
3. New York Rangers (28)
4. New Jersey Devils (27)
5. Philadelphia Flyers (26)
6. Carolina Hurricanes (25)
7. Columbus Blue Jackets (23)
8. New York Islanders (20)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (44)
2. St. Louis Blues (39)
3. Colorado Avalanche (38)
4. Minnesota Wild (35)
5. Nashville Predators (29)
6. Winnipeg Jets (28)
7. Dallas Stars (27)
Pacific Division:
1. San Jose Sharks (41)
2. Anaheim Ducks (40)
3. Los Angeles Kings (36)
4. Phoenix Coyotes (34)
5. Vancouver Canucks (31)
6. Calgary Flames (22)
7. Edmonton Oilers (18)


Key Scores:
Columbus Blue Jackets 6 – 0 Toronto Maple Leafs
– The promising start for the Maple Leafs has fallen off as the dependence on the goaltending is beginning to show some wear and that would show against Columbus where the Leafs would give up six goals against one of the worst teams in the conference

Tampa Bay Lightning 4 – 2 Philadelphia Flyers
– The Flyers are trying to come up after a terrible start and they would give everything against the Lightning but in the end the Lightning would spoil the return of former captain Vincent Lecavalier who would score a goal but would not be able to win in his return to Tampa

Boston Bruins 3 – 2 New York Rangers
– The Bruins and Rangers would get at it in the NHL’s newest tradition as they would take the ice for the Thanksgiving Showdown where the Bruins would come out on top and stay at the top of the division

New York Rangers 5 – 3 Vancouver Canucks
– The New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks would trade-off coaches in the offseason looking for a change of pace for their teams and it would be Alain Vigneault who came out on top over his former team taking the win for the Rangers


Next Week:
Detroit Red Wings vs. Ottawa Senators (Sunday December 1st; 5:30 pm ET)
– In the offseason longtime Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson would choose to leave the only team he ever knew to play for Detroit and now he returns to Ottawa for the firs time since leaving this offseason

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens (Thursday December 5th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Original Six rivalry between Boston and Montreal goes once again as the Bruins hold the top spot in the Atlantic Division while the Canadiens are sitting in the middle looking to try to move to the top of the standings

Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames (Friday December 6th; 9:00 pm ET)
– The Avs and Flames no longer face off in the same division but they will once again face off with the Avs bringing back Alex Tanguay for the first time since he was traded this offseason to Colorado

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Ottawa Senators (Saturday December 7th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of Ontario goes again this year as the Leafs are trying to stop their recent skid and move back to the top of the division while the Sens are trying to climb into the top half of the division by getting past their rivals

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