All of a sudden, a bumper crop of concussions is sprouting all over the NHL. This is the kind of crop that no one likes to see growing, but unfortunately, it’s growing like a vine.
Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues is just one of 10 different players around the league to have recently suffered a concussion. He was hurt during the team’s 1-0 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 20 and was placed on the team’s injured reserve two days later.
According to head coach Ken Hitchcock, Tarasenko got a severe facial laceration and had a headache after being hit up high by Mark Olver of the Avalanche. He was able to leave the ice under his own power, although they did take him to a Denver hospital as a precaution.
He missed the team’s most recent game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 23.
In the past dozen days, though, nine more players have joined Tarasenko on the list of the concussed. Darroll Powe, Erik Johnson, Rick Nash, Jeff Skinner, Lennart Petrell, Brendan Gallagher, Ryan Carter, Artem Anisimov and Evgeni Malkin are all out with them.
Each player is important to his team in a different way and fans everywhere are anxiously awaiting their return to clean bills of health. However, the Blues could really use the services of Tarasenko. He has six goals and six assists so far this season, was named the league’s Rookie of the Month for January and notched five points in his first two games.
A timetable for Tarasenko’s return has not been specified yet, but the Blues won’t play again until Feb. 28, so that long period of rest could do him well.
Still, the fact that so many players have suddenly found themselves out of commission with concussions is worrying. I certainly hope that the important names inside the league’s front office are taking note of what’s happening and thinking of ways to prevent head injuries in the future.
Here’s one way to start: a little more consistency with punishments being handed down from Brendan Shanahan, a former Blue himself, would certainly help. Stronger punishments for players who execute concussing hits–more than just a fine, more than just one or two games missed–will send a stronger message that the safety of the men who play this game is paramount.