The following is an opinion piece. No research studies were conducted, it is my opinion and I’m just a player who has spent his life in the game and around the gear industry.
There’s a lot of talk about in sports in general nowadays about head injuries and it seems there are many more concussions being reported. In my opinion, it’s a product of a few things. First and foremost, what we know and understand about head injuries in general. The medical community has shown the severity and consequences of concussions, leading players and coaches to take them a lot more seriously and make decisions with far more caution. Gone are the days of getting hit, sniffing the smelling salts and jumping back out for your next shift. This is for good reason – coaches, parents and players are beginning to make smarter decisions regarding concussions.
There are obviously more concussions being diagnosed today, partially because fewer concussions are being ignored and part because there are more occurring. I don’t believe that there used to be fewer and now there are a ton. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I’m going to totally make up some numbers here, but hey, that’s the beauty of blogs – I get to voice my opinion! If there were 100 concussions that occurred back in the day, I’d guess 30-40% were reported and diagnosed. Today there’s more concussions happening and I’d guess 75-80% of them are reported. To the naked eye, it seems like there’s 3 times as many concussions happening, but I don’t believe it’s as huge as it seems.
In my own opinion, one of the problems is the advances in equipment. There have been some amazing, great advances in protective hockey equipment that have elevated the game. It’s a faster game, players are bigger (see: John Scott, Zdeno Chara, Tyler Myers), they hit harder, skate faster and shoot harder. Players are much more protected than in the days of leather elbow pads, tiny shoulder pads and no helmets, which is great!
The flip side of that coin is that the players are much more protected, which might be a bad thing! The protection level of modern day equipment gives many players a sense of invincibility. The attitude becomes “it doesn’t hurt me, it must not hurt him.” I say this because I believe in my heart of hearts, most hockey players have enough respect for the game and opponents that they don’t look to intentionally injure another player.