Yet another NHL player has been seriously hurt because Gary Bettman insists on fighting a losing game.
Carolina Hurricanes rookie Andrei Svechnikov is in the concussion protocol and likely to miss Game 4 of the playoffs Thursday night, an outcome just about anybody could have predicted after watching him get decked by Alex Ovechkin. Svechnikov’s head slammed against the ice after the fight in the first period Monday night, and he spent about 30 seconds on all fours before being helped to his feet and wobbling to the locker room.
“(He) looks normal and said he feels great,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said Tuesday.
Of course Svechnikov did. What else is a 19-year-old supposed to say when Bettman has made it clear he doesn’t give a damn about his players’ health and safety?
Time and again, the NHL commissioner has refused to acknowledge hockey’s culpability in robbing former players of their memories and motor skills, making them unrecognizable to their families and friends in the most severe cases. This despite the ever-growing body of science linking repetitive head trauma to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Bettman’s stock, belligerent answer is to say there’s no way to know for sure that repetitive head trauma – you know, like what hockey players experience – causes CTE because there’s still no living diagnosis. Therefore, the NHL doesn’t need to do anything or make any changes.
Like banning fighting.
There’s no reason for what the NHL still quaintly terms “fisticuffs” and everybody, even Bettman, knows it. It’s a relic of a bygone, brutish era when people didn’t know better, and adds no value to the modern game.
“Not really,” Brind’Amour said Tuesday when asked if fighting was still necessary to the NHL. “Probably not.”
Fighting doesn’t make the NHL better, slowing the free flow of the game and disrupting the pace. That’s evident during every Olympics and world championships, where fighting is banned under International Ice Hockey Federation rules and no one complains of missing it.