THE MacBETH REPORT:
F Denis Sergeyev (Calgary, Swift Current, 2001-03) was traded by Vityaz Chekhov (Russia, KHL) to Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL). He was pointless in two games for Vityaz this season. Last season, Sergeyev had four goals and three assists in 38 games for Vityaz.
There won’t be any video explanations of suspensions coming out of the WHL office.
The WHL announced Thursday that it “will be providing an explanation on any player suspensions of five or more games. The text explanation will be provided in the WHL Discipline section of the website.”
The WHL’s board of governors made this decision during meetings in Calgary on Tuesday and Wednesday. And it made the decision despite the fact that the the two other leagues under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella — the Ontario and Quebec Major Junior leagues — have both gone to video explanations.
The National Hockey League and the Kontinental Hockey League also are using video to explain suspensions.
The WHL’s board of governors also has upheld the decision to have teams report all injuries as either lower body or upper body. The third option is illness.
If not backward steps, both of these are a definite failure to grow with the times and make good use of the technology available to help educate all involved, including fans.
Today’s players, being of the video-game generation, are especially amenable to video teaching and it’s really too bad the WHL won’t take advantage of this, the way other leagues are. It would have been nice to see the WHL go to video explanations of suspensions over three, four or five games and make sure that every player in the league watched each video.
Meanwhile, the reporting of injuries as lower body or upper body is embarrassing.
1. A player leaves a game with an obvious leg injury;
2. After the game, a reporter asks the head coach about the player’s leg injury.
3. The coach, with a sheepish look on his face, replies: “Lower body.”
4. It is pointed out to the coach that the player left with an obvious leg injury.
5. The coach shrugs and says: “All I can say is lower body.”
6. Never mind that every person in attendance at the game knows it’s a leg injury, the coach is put in the position of looking foolish and it isn’t of his doing.
And that’s too bad.
The WHL’s explains that this is “an effort to further provide a safer environment for players.”
As if the players — many of whom are in constant contact with each other via text, Twitter, Facebook, etc. — don’t know who is hurt and exactly what the injuries are.
What is really unfortunate about all of this is that the face of hockey is changing and the WHL had an opportunity, after its transparency in terms of concussions last season, to be in the forefront.
Last season, WHL teams listed concussions on their weekly injury reports. When the regular season and playoffs were over, it turned out that WHL players had experienced more than 100 concussions.
That is what spurred the WHL to come up with its seven-point plan aimed at reducing concussions.
Now, however, the WHL has chosen to pull the curtains closed, to shut the drapes, as it goes into damage and spin control.
And when the season is over the WHL is likely to tell us how much success it had in lowering the number of concussions and that the seven-point plan deserves much of the credit.
But with no in-season numbers to use as reference points, how will we be able to believe any of it?
Here’s James Shewaga, the sports editor of the Brandon Sun, from Friday’s paper:
Memo to WHL commissioner Ron Robison:
If the WHL wants to be taken seriously about addressing concussions, the league needs to be open about how many players are actually suffering from them.
The league’s new policy to hide the nature of player injuries resorting to ridiculous upper- and lower-body labels only makes it impossible to know if the WHL’s new crackdown on headshots is having any effect.
According to the Edmonton Sun, WHL players suffered more than 100 concussions last season. League VP Rick Doerksen said the league will document how many occur this season but “our position is that’s not information that should be made public.”
Since the start of the season, 44 players have been labelled with upper-body injuries on the league’s official report. How many of those are concussions? Even more disturbing is the fact that Brandon native Brayden Cuthbert does not even appear on the WHL’s injury report after he was sent home from Moose Jaw Warriors training camp suffering from post-concussion symptoms resulting from a hit in a WHL game last season. Has the league completely forgotten about Cuthbert?
WHL officials claim they are just following the NHL’s lead in not reporting injuries. But in the case of concussions, many NHL teams now realize they need to be open about the condition of players like Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, New York Ranger Marc Staal and Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard. The WHL needs to follow suit.
Shewaga also could have included Max Adolph of the Kelowna Rockets along with Cuthbert. Adolph went home to Saskatoon after suffering another concussion — he had three last season — during training camp. Adolph doesn’t appear on the Rockets’ injury report.
It seems that the MJHL commissioner is investigating what appears to have been a hazing incident involving the Neepawa Natives. Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun has more right here.
JUST NOTES: The Vancouver Giants have listed Jonah Imoo, the 17-year-old son of former WHL G Dusty Imoo. Jonah plays for the junior B Richmond Sockeyes, who posted shutouts in each of their first six games Jonah was in goal for four of those games. . . . The Sockeyes ran their record to 7-0 on Thursday night as they beat the visiting Delta Ice Hawks 5-3. Those were the first goals given up by the Sockeyes this season.
The Winnipeg Jets returned to the NHL on Sunday with a 5-1 loss to the visiting Montreal Canadiens. There was a definite WHL angle to the officiating crew, as all four worked in the WHL, and there also were some heavy hearts. Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun has that story right here.
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