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Dreger: Is it time that the NHL penalize head checking?

Darren Dreger
10/29/2009 10:40:32 PM
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Keith Primeau called injured Florida Panthers forward David Booth today to see how he's doing and although they have yet to speak, Primeau wants Booth to know he's there for him if Booth needs any support or has any questions about post-concussion syndrome.

Primeau's career was ended in 2000-06 by the cumulative effect of multiple concussions. 

Booth was laid out by a shoulder to the head from Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards and was carried off the ice on a stretcher, concussed. The Panthers are uncertain when Booth will be healthy enough to return.

Booth is the latest in a lengthening line of NHLers to suffer concussions.

Officially the NHL has logged more than 10 concussions this season.

Unofficially, an NHL on TSN survey found 26 players have missed games with concussions or concussion-like symptoms.
That includes Detroit's Andreas Lilja who hasn't played a game since suffering a concussion in a fight last February with Nashville's Shea Weber.

While the NHL says there have been more confirmed concussions this season than last season, the league insists it is too early to determine whether there should be a "heightened concern and response."

According to Julie Grand, the NHL's senior vice president and deputy general counsel, concussion numbers have remained stable in recent years and man-games lost have gone down since the NHL began tracking the statistic 10 years ago.

That is small consolation to those like Primeau whose lives have been altered by post-concussion syndrome.

Primeau says it's time the NHL introduced a penalty for head checking.

Sources say there will be a full discussion on head checking at next months managers meetings in Toronto - including whether there should be a penalty instituted.

That idea has been discussed before but never gained traction with league general managers.

An NHLPA survey indicated more than 70 per cent of players support the penalty, but the union acknowledges it will be a difficult penalty to call.

Primeau says he would welcome an invitation to speak to the general managers at next months meeting about his experience with concussions and in his opinion, the need for change.

Darren Dreger

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