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Giroux’s hit on Zubrus gives Shanahan second chance to get ruling right

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Though Dainius Zubrus of the Devils ultimately wasn’t injured, the headshot he received from Claude Giroux (not pictured) was egregious enough to merit a disciplinary hearing. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Stu Hackel

Will the NHL show courage and suspend Claude Giroux for Game 5 of the Flyers’ series against the Devils? A disciplinary hearing took place on Monday morning and Giroux certainly deserves a ban for targeting the head of the Devils’ Dainius Zubrus late in the second period of Sunday’s Game 4, which New Jersey won, 4-2, to push Philadelphia to the brink of elimination. But to remove Philly’s best player from the lineup in a potential elimination game would be a bold a move for Brendan Shanahan and the league’s Department of Player Safety. It would, however, show that they’ve learned from an earlier mistake.

UPDATED: The NHL has suspended Giroux for one game. Here is the league’s statement and Shanahan’s video explanation.

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  • Published On May 07, 2012
  • Red line rule won’t make NHL safer

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    The NHL game is faster because the players are in better shape and there’s less obstruction to slow them. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL’s general managers will gather for their annual March meeting next week and hints have been dropped by some to members of the media that they’d like to revisit the rule that makes possible one of hockey’s most exciting plays — the two-line stretch pass that leads to a breakaway.

    Ostensibly, this would be the GMs’ way of helping address the game’s concussion problem, the idea being that the NHL has gotten too fast in part because the two-line pass increases players’ speed and thus the force of collisions and the possibility of concussions. But various league sources say the GMs as a group won’t allow this rule — if it makes it onto the agenda — to be overturned. While there is certainly ongoing concern about concussions, the notion that the game is going to be somehow slowed to prevent them is not the direction the majority of managers want to take. Some of the less progressive GMs are still trying to turn back the clock, but they are in the minority.

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  • Published On Mar 08, 2012
  • NFL sets example for NHL

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    Too tough for his own good: Maple Leafs winger Colby Armstrong did not tell team doctors about the concussion symptoms he felt after a playing the Canucks last Saturday. (Gary Angus/ZUMAPRESS.com)

    By Stu Hackel

    Should the NHL adopt the NFL’s newest concussion protocol that’s designed to help teams spot injuries and sit players who want to play through head trauma? The only intelligent response has to be, “Why not?”

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  • Published On Dec 22, 2011
  • Crosby again the face of the NHL’s entrenched concussion problem

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    Sidney Crosby has become a case study in hockey’s myriad dangers, how vulnerable players can be, and how difficult it will be for the NHL to further prevent concussion incidents. (Photo by Gene J. Puskar/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Sidney Crosby sat calmly at his dressing room stall on Monday, a Penguins cap pulled low on his brow and casting a shadow over his eyes. In a chipper tone, he described his condition as “not bad.”

    Frequently smiling, Crosby patiently answered questions from those huddled around him about his latest injury, which is being called “concussion-like symptoms.” He believes he is not as seriously injured as when he was originally concussed last January by a combination of blows in two consecutive games, and he restated what had been known for a few days: that he had passed an ImPACT  test of his brain activity, which ruled out that he had suffered another concussion.

    But he ominously added, “The ImPACT isn’t everything. You’ve got to listen to your body, too.” He said there was no time frame on his return.

    So the NHL’s fleeting feel-good story of the first half of the season has now ground to a halt and you have to wonder if it will transform into a recurring nightmare. There have to be legitimate concerns that Crosby is now one of those players who becomes highly susceptible to concussions after suffering one, that a series of them could be ahead, and his once-sunny future is now at least partly cloudy.

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  • Published On Dec 14, 2011
  • Blues come calling, a Leafs mystery, more

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    Goaltender Brian Elliott has been a surprising part of the Blues’ turnaround under coach Ken Hitchcock. (Jimmy Simmons/ZUMAPRESS.com)

    By Stu Hackel

    Some thoughts from around the NHL:..

    The Blues defeated the Panthers Thursday tonight in a matchup of  two of the NHL’s more interesting clubs — and who would have thought they’d describe them that way a couple of weeks ago? The Blues are improved since Ken Hitchcock took over as coach, winning four of five and in the fifth getting a point after losing the postgame skills competition to the Maple Leafs.

    The Blues’ wins have all come at home, but now they play five of their next seven games are on the road. Their special teams play is better. Hitchcock has simplified the game for the players (Bernie Miklasz’s column today in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has more on that) and, probably most importantly, the Blues are getting very good goaltending, especially from Brian Elliott, who was not even guaranteed a roster spot in training camp.
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  • Published On Nov 17, 2011
  • Underachieving Habs and Bruins ready to renew hostilities

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    Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty will surely have an emotional investment in meeting the Bruins again. (Michael Ivins/US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    Fasten your seatbelts: The NHL’s greatest, most passionate rivalry resumes tonight when the Canadiens visit the Bruins for their first encounter this season (NHL Network in the U.S., 7 pm) and they play again on Saturday in Montreal. The six regular-season and seven playoff games these two played were some of the most exciting — and nasty — of the 2010-11 campaign and there’s no reason to believe they won’t continue in that vein.
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  • Published On Oct 27, 2011
  • Research paints a dire picture for the NHL’s concussion victims

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    Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, who was concussed when hit by brother Eric (left) last February, is still feeling the effects and has been sidelined for three preseason games. (Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The insidious nature of concussions to NHL players continues to make news. Some of that news is good regarding Sidney Crosby, the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty, the Avalanche’s Peter Mueller and Pierre-Marc Bouchard of the Wild. Some isn’t so good, particularly involving Marc Staal of the Rangers.

    The Blueshirts blueliner, who is considered the top man in their young defense corps, will be held out of the team’s first three preseason games, the result of a concussion he apparently suffered last February and from which he developed symptoms over the summer.
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  • Published On Sep 19, 2011
  • Top stars lead movement against headshots

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    Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos has called upon his fellow players to be more responsible about making dangerous head contact, whether it is deliberate or not. (Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL’s first preseason games will be played next Monday, just a few days after training camps open, and because preseason play tends to feature some aggression as hopefuls try to catch their coaches’ eyes, we may begin to quickly see the effects of the strengthened Rule 48. That’s the rule that last season prohibited blindside and lateral hits to the head and now applies to most — but not all — other hits that intentionally target the noggin.

    Judging by some recent comments from NHL players, these rules and their enforcement will continue to be a hot topic, and sentiment is growing to make them stronger and more consistent.

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  • Published On Sep 15, 2011
  • NHL vulnerable to NFL concussion lawsuit

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    Fighting is just one form of neurologically dangerous behavior the NHL allows. (Bill Greenblatt-UPI/Landov)

    By Stu Hackel

    Will the recent class action suit by former NFL players – who allege that their league trained players to hit with their heads, failed to properly treat them for concussions and tried to conceal for decades any links between football and brain injuries — have an impact on the National Hockey League? One player agent thinks so.

    Massachusetts-based Kent Hughes, whose NHL clients include Patrice Bergeron, Peter Mueller and Matthew Lombardi, who have suffered severe concussions, told Mathias Brunet of La Presse that the lawsuit “opens up a can of worms” for the NHL. “I feel that the NHL will closely monitor what happens in the NFL,” said Hughes.

    A big part of that can of worms has to do with fighting in the NHL.
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  • Published On Aug 23, 2011
  • Skating around: Huselius’s pecs, Max’s rehab, Preds’ gold and a dirty man

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    Solid gold: Nashville and the Predators will be showing their new colors next season. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Let’s take a skate around the NHL and look at some news on this summer day.

    The biggest item comes out of Columbus, well, Sweden actually, where Blue Jackets forward Kristian Huselius, who was recovering from April hip surgery, tore a pectoral muscle while weightlifting and will miss four to six months. He had surgery Thursday morning in Columbus and is lost to the club until November at the earliest, January at the latest. GM Scott Howson tweeted that “surgery went well,” and added “We r looking at options to help get us through.” Read More…


  • Published On Jul 14, 2011


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