With the NFL under scrutiny for the way it handled Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on Thursday, the NHL is about to update its concussion rules, Canada’s Sportsnet reports .
The news being leaked in the wake of the Newton situation is probably not a coincidence.
Beginning with the 2016-17 season, four independent trainers (called “central spotters”) will monitor all NHL games via television. When they see “visible signs” of a concussion, they will alert the team that the player must be removed from the game.
Every team has its own spotters in place. The league foursome will supplement their observations.
The NHL’s 2016-17 season begins Oct. 12. Details on update are expected to be provided before that date, sources told Sportsnet.ca’s Elliotte Friedman.
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The NHL’s concussion protocol went into effect in March 2011. https://www.nhl.com/news/new-concussion-protocol-goes-into-effect-tonight/c-556289 It requires players suspected of being concussed to leave the ice, go into a quiet room and be examined by a team doctor. Before, players were examined on the bench.
There are flaws in the NHL system, as witnessed last season when the Flames’ Dennis Wideman refused to leave a game in which he got a head injury.
Expect the NHL to err on the side of caution , according to CBS Sports. Also expect backlash from the teams, since the four independent spotters will take decisions out of the hands of coaches and trainers.
But the league is sensitive to the issue, having been sued by former players in 2013. The number of complainants now tops 100.
The suit filed in a Minnesota federal court alleging that the NHL failed to protect players from the risks of the repeated head trauma.
Many NHL stars had their careers shortened by concussions, including Pat LaFontaine and Eric Lindros. Sindey Crosby is among players who continue to play after repeated head trauma. Crosby is captain of the Stanley Cup-champion Penguins and was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as most valuable player in the playoffs.
The NHL tried to have the class-action suit dismissed , but its motion was denied in May 2016.
In August, a United States senator said the NHL was wrong in its standagainst the concussion suit. Commissioner Gary Bettman pooh-poohed the notion.
In 2015, PBS reported that 87 former NFL players were found to have concussion-related brain disease after their deaths.
The NFL settled a concussion suit by former players for $765 million. The NHL shows no signs of willingness to settle.
Newton was hit in the head several times during Thursday’s NFL opener against the Broncos. Controversy brewed after the game about game officials not calling penalties on the hits, how Newton was handled by his own coaches and staff, and whether the league should have ordered Newton into concussion protocol.