Fighting and concussions in the game of hockey continue to be at the forefront of summertime discussions. This week one league stepped up its own fight against fighting, while NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman continued to draw criticism from a U.S. Congressman for the league’s stance on concussions.
OHL Formalizes New Penalties for Fighting
The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) announced Friday morning that it will be limiting players to three fights per season, before facing an automatic suspension. Players exceeding the three-fight threshold will be subject to an automatic two game suspension, for each fight exceeding the threshold. The previous threshold allowed for 10 fights per season before specific disciplinary action was implemented.
Concussion Border Wars
This week also saw Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal continue his questioning of the NHL’s stance on concussions in a three-page letter to Commissioner Gary Bettman. In comments he made to the Hartford Courant on Monday, Blumenthal stated “Common sense and mounting scientific evidence show there are warning signs and clear links between brain trauma and concussions and degenerate neurological disease later in life, including CTE,” Blumenthal has been leading a steady charge since the original NHL testimonies were made on Capitol Hill earlier this year.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman responded on Wednesday, stating “Obviously the senator has his opinions and we have ours.” Bettman has been steady in his response to Blumenthal’s relentless comments, and recently authored a 24-page letter. “As it is, to this day — let alone prior to the start of the NHL/NHLPA Concussion Program in 1997 — no medical study has ever concluded that concussions suffered by players who have played hockey at the NHL level can or do cause degenerative ‘brain diseases,'” Bettman wrote.
Blumenthal initially reached out to Bettman a day before the NHL draft, requesting clarification over the NHL’s stance on the link between head trauma and CTE. That request came after emails between league officials were made public in an ongoing class-action lawsuit the NHL is facing over its’ handling of concussions.
By Jon Sorensen