Hockey Talkie: KHL Crash, Costanza, Crosby, Concussions, and Keeping Your Spot On The Roster.
Well Georgey Boy, you really did it this time.
He got the sport and some of the statistics wrong, but the general prediction from 1992 finally came true on September 7, 2011, as the entire roster of the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl was tragically wiped out (not to mention the airplane crew — only 3 people survived in total). So sad. [note: please don’t interpret the Seinfeld clip as me making light of this tragedy, as I’m not]
I’ve heard some horror stories about players’ bad experiences in the KHL (mostly mob related), but this is the absolute worst case scenario. Apparently the aircraft wasn’t exactly “up to date“, technology-wise. KHL games have been postponed. So in a league with shady contracts, inadequate medical supplies, and unsafe travel vehicles, why are players accepting offers from this “alternative” league, again?
Lump this mouthful on top of three previous deaths of current NHL players Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak this summer, and you have, unquestionably, the darkest hockey summer of all-time.
In relation to Sidney Crosby’s announcement of continuing to be sidelined “indefinitely”, it’s interesting to make the concussion connection between (arguably) hockey’s greatest current star getting one, and the three afore mentioned toughguys who each probably racked up more than that (perhaps some undiagnosed).
I did some very rough math the other day, and see if you follow me — say you’re an NHL fighter. There’s 82 games in the season. Let’s be generous and say you fight in around 1/4 of the games that year (lets round that to 20 for easy math’s sake). Now in those 20 fights, out of the storm of total punches usually thrown, let’s say your opponent lands 5 good ones on you each time. So by this very broad equation, we have you taking 100 punches directly to the head each year. And if you play ten years in the NHL (Rypien -6; Boogaard -6; Belak – 14), that works out to 1000 blows directly to the head, from a very strong and angry person, who is very intent on harming you. And that’s not counting any fights in the minors, junior, or college hockey; nor any head-rattling bodychecks you took over that span. Now, if Crosby’s brain has been scrambled enough from 1 to 2 hits to put him out of action for more than 9 months, imagine where you would be at having taken the generously low statistics I fired straight at your head, and trying to tough out a season and not lose your spot on the team roster. And imagine the toll this amount of repeated impact would take on your very fragile human brain, and what kind of mental damage/illness could very likely occur. How could a guy described by their friends and family as the happiest, nicest guy they knew, suddenly take his own life? Or carelessly overdose? Whatever contention you want to throw at it, I think it’s safe to say that those guys’ brains just weren’t right anymore.
Back to Crosby: I love his assertion that headshots should be taken right out of the game. They should.
Beyond that, I feel like Crosby may be in danger getting far too “babied”, if I can be so bold. I get he’s the most valuable asset in the game and all, but think about it for a second. Name another NHL player who could get a concussion, be given all the time he needs to rehab, and come back to the lineup anytime they (and the doctors) feel they’re ready. I mean, his doctors are describing him as a human Ferrari. It’s just not typical. If you’re a fringe player/human Ford Taurus fighting for a spot and you get a concussion, guaranteed there’s a player who’ll have your spot by next game. So one of two things is going to happen: either 1) every player is going to get this kind of treatment from their team and the league from now on, or 2) Crosby’s going to get a lot of heat for getting all this preferential treatment.