NHL Week in Review (October 14-19)

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This week the world saw only the second country pass a law to allow recreational use of Cannabis throughout the country.

That country was Canada as the law to legalize marijuana went into effect on October 17 joining Uruguay as the only countries in the world to allow recreational use of the drug.

For decades it has been seen as a terrible thing that leads to using other drugs as the plant has been vilified in campaigns against drug use.

Over the last decade, the stigma around marijuana has been shifting though as more work has been done to understand the drug.

With medical use being brought in throughout the world the drug has been seen as an alternative to other, sometimes more harmful drugs.

The more it has been used the more people have begun seeing the possibilities that can come with the use of marijuana.

There is still a massive lack of real science to back up the use of the drug for a number of ailments there have been real-life users who have seen the advantages.

When it comes to sport the use of marijuana has been outlawed just like any other recreational drug.

Over the last few years though there have been more and more people wondering why it remains a banned substance.

In an age where the health of former players has been in the headlines, marijuana seems like a solution.

For the last few years contact sports have been under fire for the way they essentially use and discard of players.

These players put everything on the line and often when they leave the league they are left with massive medical bills and a load of mental health issues.

These are men who have thrown their bodies around in order to get a spot in the NHL and be a physical presence

That type of play wears on the body and it has been proven that the hits many are taking lead to serious head injuries that can cause CTE which leads to depression and dementia.

More often than not the solution to the injuries and pain that these players experience is painkillers.

Drugs like OxyContin are handed out regularly in order for players to manage the pain they experience throughout the season.

It keeps them on the ice and keeps them playing but for many players, it also creates a dependence.

The dependence on painkillers has been a massive issue over the last few years around the country as these drugs are handed out more than ever before.

Some players develop an addiction and soon they can’t function without using those drugs to help them just get going every morning.hockey-sidebar

One thing that many are continuing to claim is that marijuana can replace these drugs and is a safer version.

Marijuana isn’t habit-forming, although addiction to it isn’t impossible, and it is a natural substance rather than a number of chemicals.

For many players, this is the option that they would much prefer to use in order to deal with the pain that is inevitable in contact sports.

Still, leagues won’t back down and a lot of that has to do with the fact that many of these leagues have a big base in the USA where only a few states have passed legalization laws.

Leagues like the NFL have said that unless the federal law changes they won’t be changing their policy on marijuana.

The NHL is in a different situation though as that is a league that has seven teams in Canada with many of the players living in the country in the offseason.

For the NHL this is a different debate as Canada is an extremely important part of their league and now they are caught in between two different countries with different laws.

The rules are not currently very strict for marijuana use in the NHL as there are no suspensions connected with the use of marijuana unless a significant amount of the substance is found during a drug test.

It is the most lenient policy in major North American sports but they do still consider it an illegal substance.

The NHL won’t change their rules any time soon and that is fine for the most part but for some former players, they would like to see the NHL embrace the drug.

Instead of just handing out opioids to players who are hurt many would prefer to see team doctors offer alternatives like marijuana as a way to manage pain.

With the NHL so entrenched in Canada they would the be the league to change that policy now that the drug is legal in Canada.

It will likely take some time for attitudes to change but the NHL could be the leaders in this aspect as other leagues aren’t even considering a change.



Crossing Borders

This week the hockey world got a glimpse into just how far the sport can reach with a commercial from Tim Hortons. The commercial featured a team that had been playing for the last few years in the heart of Kenya. These players were all native Kenyans and had nobody to play against as they just found ice and played each other for the love of the game. Tim Hortons arranged for a special few days as they invited the team to Canada to play a real team. They gave the team real jerseys and the latest equipment but the bigger surprise was when Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon showed up to play alongside the Kenyan team. It was a unique experience and an interesting view into the reaches of the sport.

One Record Down

Wayne Gretzky is the greatest player to ever suit up in the NHL and the argument for that is in the record books. Every major category for offence is led by Gretzky with the most points, goals, assists and just about anything else someone can think of as an offensive player. Many of those records seem unbreakable as Gretzky last played in 1999 and nobody has even come close to breaking those records. This week though Gretzky has one less record to hold as Auston Matthews put his name in the record books ahead of the greatest player. Matthews became the youngest player, a year younger than Gretzky, to earn multiple points in the first five games of the season putting him on pace for a legendary season.

One Left

This season saw a strange number of Restricted Free Agents have to wait very late into the offseason to be signed. Heading into the season there were only two left without a contract but after this week there is now one. William Nylander is a big part of the Toronto Maple Leaf’s future plans but those future plans are complicated. Nylander needs to sign a deal that works with the fact that Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner will both need new contracts at the end of this season. That is a lot of young talent with only so much money to go around for the Leafs to stay under the cap. It has been a struggle but the Leafs are now under more pressure with nobody left on the market and if the Leafs struggle the pressure will only increase to get a deal done.

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