The Rangers are proceeding “with caution” in regards to Marc Staal’s concussion symptoms. What surprises me is that post-concussion syndrome stuff is being addressed from a hit he took on the ice in February (by his brother, ironically), and he sat all summer with this. I mean, nothing against Staal, I hope he takes care of himself and is back on the ice before we know it. My problem, though, is with the treatment, not just of hockey players but of players who are prone to concussions, specifically due to big hits and subsequent brain injuries.
I know I discussed this the other day in my post on hockey’s dark side. But it’s not just hockey, football players get concussions as a matter of course almost and now even baseball players (notably, Jason Bay in 2010 ran into a wall and missed the entire season, and it took him a good half-season to get back into things, and even Ryan Church who was on the Mets in 2008 flew cross-country with a brain injury before experiencing post-concussion symptoms) are joining in on the non-fun.
I guess because of Eric Lindros, and two of my favorite players of all-time Pat LaFontaine and ’94 Ranger great Mike Richter had to retire prematurely due to post-concussion syndrome, I am a little gunshy about hearing things like “proceeding with caution” (which is a good thing) to “flying with the team to Stockholm” (bad thing), which is what they are talking about doing with Staal. Look, I know Staal’s health is critical to the team’s health. But if they are truly to proceed with caution, wouldn’t flying to Stockholm be in effect a bad idea? I would hate, you know, to see the Rangers put money over the health of one of their best players.
Maybe I’m just being overly cautious myself or feeling that way anyway, since a blogger-with-shitty-opinions’ opinions don’t weigh much on the organizational health of my favorite hockey team. I guess in a summer where several hockey players died tragically indirectly or perhaps more directly to head injuries sustained on the ice, and former NFL player Dave Duerson took his own life with a suicide note attached saying to donate his brain to the NFL Bank…causing other NFL alums and writers to speak out on behalf of players who become depressed because of diminished capacity after suffering long-term concussion effects, and causing non-pro levels to listen with care about potential backlash due to concussive symptoms…I mean, these are “tough guys” who are supposed to take it “like a man” and not complain, but the truth is, these guys are hurting. It’s in their nature to not speak up, or therefore look like a pansy. The fact of the matter is, it is a problem, and someone needs to think about it.
Perhaps it is I,though, who is thinking overly cautious, or putting a value on the effects of this stuff. I guess when I’ve seen so much of this in all the sports I watch, and then cringe each time Jason Bay has to get too close to a wall, or Mike Richter has to retire before his time…I guess I can think that flying Staal across the ocean to play in two games when he’s been sitting on this injury for SEVEN MONTHS is a bit excessive and he can sit out the first few games of the season.