NHL Week in Review (March 22-28)

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The NHL wishes that they could focus on what is always one of the most exciting parts of the regular season.

The league is trying to focus on what is shaping up as a great fight for the playoffs as there are plenty of spots ready for teams to take in the 2015 playoffs.

The race itself is a great one as many new teams are finding their way into the fight and the old guard, although somewhat intact, is no longer dominating. It is shaping up for a great playoff race and a great playoffs but the NHL can’t focus on that as an old issue continues to creep up on them.

With so much else going on it can sometimes fall through the cracks but the fact is that the NHL is now dealing with a concussion lawsuit that they can’t seem to get rid of no matter how much they try.

This week the story that has been circling the league the entire season crept up again when the NHL lost a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against them.

This lawsuit has been in the works for a long time and the NHL continues to look into ways that they can get around the legal action.

hockey-sidebarThe lawsuit itself is very similar to the lawsuit filed against the NFL only last year. Retired players have essentially claimed that the NHL knew about the dangers of concussions and never warned the players of those dangers. If they had been informed the players could have taken steps to at least lessen the damage or may not have decided to play as long or take as many risks when they were playing.

The claim is one that has plenty of holes in it as these players may not have changed anything if they knew the risks or simply a freak accident could have hurt them. It also leaves a lot of room for the league to disprove the claims as they need absolute proof that the NHL knew.

This requires some kind of email or documentation that the NHL knew the risks and withheld the information from the players.

Finding that proof from more than a decade ago is not likely and so these lawsuits never really seek a trial. Instead the players look for a settlement that will help cover health expenses caused by injuries sustained in the NHL.

Essentially these former players want more money to deal with the concussions and the issues that have arisen due to concussions that they suffered while playing in the league.

This generally comes as a result of the NHL pension that rarely is enough to cover the major issues associated with concussions and the symptoms of concussions that many of these players suffer from and yet can’t treat with the limited support they receive.

In the lawsuit against the NFL the league settled for a total of $765 million to be spread among the 25,000 players and 9,000 relatives of deceased players.

That amount was widely criticized as far less than what will really be required for these players. The settlement was also used by these former NHL players to give them some leverage in filing their own lawsuit that claimed the same as the NFL lawsuit.

If these former players expected a quick settlement to the tune of the NFL settlement they would have been far off. The NHL is not the power that the NFL is and does not have the money to give away like the NFL does.

Spending $765 million to essentially get rid of the bad press is nothing for a league that earns billions in TV deals alone.

The NHL is not that league and so they have gone about trying to get around the settlement including this motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on claims of time-sensitivity, jurisdictional issues, and an inadequately pled case.

The judge decided that the NHL was not right in these claims and that the lawsuit would continue on. The only thing left now is essentially a settlement and the debate will rage on as to how big this settlement will be and if the NHL can afford the settlement.

(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Leafs’ New Low
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the first teams to be eliminated from the playoffs and it seems for once the fans are fed up as the Leafs reached their lowest attendance in 16 years with tickets being discounted for the first time in a long time

New Head of the HOF
The passing of Pat Quin was a sad day for NHL fans everywhere and left a gap that cannot be filled but someone needed to take over his role as the chair of the Hockey Hall of Fame and Lanny MacDonald will be that someone as he was named chairman this week

Putting a Stop to Burger Throw
The Ottawa Senators have fallen in love with their new goaltender, Andrew Hammond, and have taken to throwing hamburgers on the ice in honour of the man known as the Hamburglar but the Sens are hoping that is coming to an end sending out multiple messages to stop


Key Scores:
Detroit Red Wings 2 – 1 St. Louis Blues
– The Red Wings continued to march towards their 23rd straight playoff appearance and in keeping that in focus they got this win over the Blues who remain one of the top teams in the Western Conference

Vancouver Canucks 5 – 2 Winnipeg Jets
– The Jets continue to fight for the playoffs as they sit in a wild card spot but their game against the Canucks did not help as they took the loss and did not help their chances while the Canucks inched closer to earning a spot

New York Rangers 5 – 1 Ottawa Senators
– The Senators are fighting for their playoff lives as they sit on the edge of the wild card but they couldn’t find a win against the Rangers who clinched a playoff spot with this win and remain one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference

Nashville Predators 4 – 3 Washington Capitals
– The Predators had a great stretch but fell off until recently and after this win against the Caps they got the reward for playing at the top-level for so long clinching their playoff spot with positioning left to fight for

Next Week:
Detroit Red Wings vs. New York Islanders (Sunday March 29th; 5:00 pm ET)
– The Islanders were once the best team in the Metropolitan division but have since fallen out of that spot and now they look to get closer to the playoffs as they take on the Red Wings with both entering the game in a playoff spot

Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Monday March 30th; 8:30 pm ET)
– This matchup has proven to be one of the best in the Western Conference over the last few years, especially when it comes to the playoffs, and they face-off again this time with the Kings trying to get into the playoffs and the Blackhawks comfortably in a playoff spot

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Wednesday April 1st; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of Pennsylvania was a great fight at the start of the season but the Penguins have separated themselves and the game is now reduced to the Flyers trying to hold onto their slim playoff hopes

Washington Capitals vs. Ottawa Senators (Saturday April 4th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Capitals and the Senators are both holding on to the wild card spots but that all could change throughout the week as both will fight with the same goal in mind, trying to get closer to that elusive playoff spot

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