This is not what I planned on writing just a few days ago. With Sidney Crosby back on the shelf and Alexander Ovechkin having a sub-par season to date, I had planned on writing why the Philadelphia Flyers' Claude Giroux just may be the best player in the NHL right now.
Then on Saturday, Giroux - the NHL's leading scorer - took an accidental skate to the head from teammate Wayne Simmonds and is out indefinitely with a concussion, just like Crosby.
It was another devastating blow to hockey fans in Philadelphia. With all due respect to all the great Flyers since Eric Lindros left town, Giroux was the one who was truly emerging as one of the other-level elite athletes in the sport, the same way Lindros was back in his prime. Leading the league in scoring, playing physical, defensive-minded hockey, incredible creativity, playing in all situations - Giroux was beginning to enter the Crosby/Ovechkin territory. Then, just like that, he's lost to a concussion in a freak accident, the same way Lindros' brilliant Flyers career, and ultimately his NHL career, was derailed by head trauma.
Now the NHL's preeminent star and its newest up-and-comer are shelved with the most mysterious of injuries. All this after the NHL has gone to great lengths to discourage head shots and protect players to prevent this very thing from happening.
The thing is this: you can't legislate concussions or physicality out of the game, and no matter what rules you implement, concussions won't go away. Think about it ... both Giroux and Crosby weren't even knocked out by vicious, head-hunting hits. In fact, they were both unfortunately taken out by their own teammates.
The fact of the matter is that players continue to get bigger and faster, moving strong bodies at speeds never before seen. Violent collisions, no matter the intent, are bound to happen, and there's really nothing anyone can do about it.
I applaud the NHL for taking the measures, and it has to try, with all its might, to curb this plague on the league -- and all sports leagues everywhere, to be honest. Unfortunately, our heads were only meant to take so much trauma, and no rules in the world can change that.
Sometimes, the body can be cruel. Just ask Brandon Roy. And right now, the bodies, more specifically the heads of two of the NHL's brightest stars are being unfairly to cruel to them, the NHL and to hockey fans the world over.
Here's hoping to a full and speedy recovery to both, because the NHL needs Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux. These men were meant to play hockey, and it would be a tragedy if that was taken away from them.
In a sport as physical as hockey concussions are inevitable. The problem with the return from a concussion is that cognitive domains are going to be rattled and in a sport where collision is almost eminent, there is no way to be efficient if you don't have all of your cognitive awareness to make split decisions while doing something (skating) that requires you to be sharp and precise.
Unlike other sports, including football, hockey players are moving at an incredible rate of speed when they collide. Once a player gets that first concussion, you can almost guarantee that there will be a series of concussions to follow eventually putting that player on the shelf. Even in football when you get that full speed concussion ala Brian Westbrook from a few years ago, its pretty much the beginning of the end.
Honestly I don't see how they can avoid it in the NHL.
What's funny about this is that its affecting the star player, which is something you rarely see in sports (outside of Peyton Manning's slinky neck.)
Sad to say, but Sidney Crosby just might not be built for this. He might need to get out while he can and live the rest of his life as healthy as he can. As far as Giroux, you just hope he can make it back and sustain, because ole buddy was emerging as an elite talent. Thank God he's on our team. #BroadStreet
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