NHL Week in Review (October 11-17)

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It is a sore spot for the NHL to talk about since the revelations over the last few years in the sports world.

When concussions in the NFL were revealed to have long-term negative effects on players a new call for safety began.

The league was forced to change rules in order to try to protect their players from suffering the concussions that had been so prevalent.

The new attitude did not end with football though as every contact sport came under scrutiny with the new knowledge of the damage done.

The NHL had to undergo their own rule changes in an attempt to curb head injuries before it became a major issue.

Every year it seems like another retired player is found dead due to depression or other mental illnesses that come due to the damage suffered from concussions.

With more players discovered to have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which can lead to dementia and depression, the league was on the line to do something to help those who had already suffered and to prevent more damage.

The league has done some work in trying to end any extra damage, at least as much as they can in a contact sport, by changing rules and getting tougher on hits to the head.

They haven’t done a lot for the retired players though and they are usually not in the conversation regarding the issues that come when players with head injuries retire.

When conversation comes up about dementia or depression in retired players it is more often about the NFL, who settled a lawsuit last year with retired players.

The NHL tends to be left out in one of the few advantages of not being the biggest league in North America.

The NHL realizes this as well and now everyone knows they do after an email from their legal counsel told top league officials to “Leave the dementia issues up to the NFL.”

That leaked email has given plenty of cause for concern from retired players.

The legal counsel of the league has outright said not to worry about the players and their health when they retire because they aren’t the major concern of the league.hockey-sidebar

That is alarming for a major sports league that has clearly had plenty of issues with concussions before the issues were understood.

Retired players have filed a lawsuit against the NHL for not informing or protecting the players despite knowing the dangers.

The NHL claims they never knew the dangers until recently and therefore are not responsible for the damage caused.

The email came out through conversations recently and therefore will not have much of an impact on the lawsuit.

Yet still the lawsuit has already divided plenty of people and this email will not do anything to help the case of the NHL.

They have concerns over helping their players in the NHL right now and are trying to prioritize, which is essentially what the email was saying just in a terrible way.

The NHL is in the midst of this debate among the major contact leagues that have a responsibility to protect their players without hurting their sport.

With a fan base that tends not to trust the league officials to begin with the revelation of this email is not going to win them any extra fans.

As much as they want to prioritize their actions to try to prevent further injuries they do still have a responsibility for those who came before.

Whether they knew the dangers before or not may never be seen even after the lawsuit is settled but to help those players that gave so much for the league and are now suffering.

The words may not have been right but the fact is that the league doesn’t seem to think that retired players are much of a concern for them right now, giving everyone more reason to love the sport but hate the league.

(More Thoughts on this week in hockey)

The NWHL Experiment
Women’s sports have rarely been steady in North America but that is supposed to change as the National Women’s Hockey League started this year with a four team league that is to pay their players and be the centre of women’s hockey

Plekanec Locked Up
Tomas Plekanec and the Montreal Canadiens will be together for at least a little while longer as Montreal signed the long-time Canadien to a two-year extension that is likely the last contract that he will sign in the NHL

Setback for Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are once again starting quick in the season but they will be without one of their best for a while as Logan Couture suffered a broken leg this week and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks of the season

World Cup Prep
The World Cup of Hockey is less than a year away and already teams are finding their staffs with John Tortorella pegged for Team USA and now Todd McLellan named as the head coach of Team North America that will include the best young players from the region


Key Scores:
Vancouver Canucks 2 – 1 Anaheim Duck (SO)
– The Canucks and Ducks are two teams that some may be waiting for to fight for the top of the Pacific division and the Canucks took the first shot after 3-on-3 overtime solved nothing and Vancouver took the win in a shootout

Dallas Stars 4 – 3 Edmonton Oilers
– Connor McDavid is constantly going to be watched in every move that he makes including this game when he put in his first goal of the season after everyone wondering why he hasn’t scored even more yet this year

Toronto Maple Leafs 6 – 3 Columbus Blue Jackets
– The Toronto Maple Leafs were expected to not be the best team in the league this year and it has been proven to be true as they are playing better hockey but earned only their first win of the season against the Blue Jackets due to a simple lack of talent

Edmonton Oilers 5 – 2 Calgary Flames
– Both Alberta teams are young but they have seen much different results recently and this time it was another different result as the Oilers took the win with Connor McDavid scoring two goals to take the first Battle of Alberta

Next Week:
New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers (Sunday October 18th; 1:00 pm ET)
– The Hudson River Rivalry is back and the Rangers are looking to stay near the top of the division while the Devils are just trying to get out of the basement this year with both teams on opposite ends of the spectrum

St. Louis Blues vs. Montreal Canadiens (Tuesday October 20th; 7:30 pm ET)
– They are two of the best teams in the league right now and many could see these two in the Stanley Cup next year as the Blues try to prove that the west is best while they Canadiens look to continue the best start to a season in their long history

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres (Wednesday October 21st; 7:00 pm ET)
– The QEW rivalry is not nearly what it used to be especially since the Leafs are one of the worst teams in the NHL as they hope to try to get another win against the Sabres who are hoping to move their way out of the basement as well

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Saturday October 24th; 8:30 pm ET)
– One of only two games between these two Stanley Cup contenders from last year is sure to be interesting as a rebuilt Blackhawks try to continue to beat the Lightning while Tampa tries to earn some revenge from their Stanley Cup loss

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