THE MacBETH REPORT:
D Shaone Morrisonn (Kamloops, 1999-2002) signed a one-year contract with Spartak Moscow (Russia, KHL). He had four goals and 11 assists in 65 games with the Rochester Americans (AHL) last season. . . .
D Sergei Klimentyev (Medicine Hat, 1993-95) signed a one-year contract with Berkut Kiev (Ukraine, Professionalnaya Liga). He had three goals and 17 assists in 24 games with Sokil Kiev (Ukraine, Professionalnaya Liga) last season. Klimentyev was also captain of the Ukraine national team at the World Division 1 Championships held in April. . . .
D Ricard Blidstrand (Regina, Prince George, 2010-12) signed a one-year contract with Västerås (Sweden, Allsvenskan). He had five goals and 21 assists in 62 games with the Pats and the Cougars last season.
The WHL’s board of governors spent a couple of days this week holding its annual general meeting in Vancouver.
When it was all done, the WHL issued a press release.
And there, slightly more than halfway through the release, is this sentence:
“Despite a slight increase in concussions, the WHL remains confident the Seven Point Plan will assist in reducing concussions in the future.”
That is followed by this explanation from Ron Robison, the WHL’s commissioner:
"We anticipated the rate of concussions may increase this past season as there is more emphasis being placed now than ever before on the care and treatment of concussion injuries. We remain confident that the WHL's Seven Point Plan will address this matter effectively and reduce concussions in the seasons ahead."
If you are late to this party, WHL players experienced more than 100 concussions during the 2010-11 season. During that season, the WHL’s weekly injury report broke down injuries, and concussions were reported as concussions.
But the WHL chose prior to last season to stop reporting on concussions, instead listing all injuries as being of the upper- or lower-body variety.
So, in fact, we don’t know how many concussions there were during the 2011-12 season; nor do we know Robison’s definition of “slight” as in "slight increase."
But we now know that there WAS an increase and that simply is abhorrent.
In case you have forgotten, here is the Seven-Point Plan that was announced a year ago (according to the WHL, it is a comprehensive approach to addressing blows to the head and concussions):
1. The adoption of new playing rules;
2. More severe suspensions for repeat offenders;
3. Production of an educational video on risks of concussion;
4. Educating the players to be more responsible for themselves on the ice;
5. A seminar for all WHL head coaches and general managers;
6. New soft cap elbow and shoulder pads;
7. Expanded research data; and,
8. A review of all WHL arena facilities safety standards.
The news release issued Wednesday contained some different wording from the Seven-Point Plan of a year ago:
1. Continued emphasis on discipline as it applies to repeat offenders;
2. Production of an education video on player safety;
3. Seminar for all general managers and head coaches on September 11, 2012;
4. Continuing to provide players with best available protective equipment;
5. Working with the WHL Arena Advisory Committee to adopt acrylic glass as a standard for all WHL arenas;
6. Continuing to collect and study research data on concussion injuries and their causes.
Note that there aren’t any new playing rules this time, so it’s now a six-point plan. There also is nothing about softening elbow and shoulder pads. Nor is there anything about moving to ban fighting.
Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t provide a breakdown of what is causing the more than 200 concussions its players have suffered over the last two seasons.
Regardless, the WHL has proven it isn’t doing enough to reduce the number of concussions suffered by its players. Yes, hockey is a contact sport, so there are always going to be concussions. But more than 100 in a season, and then there’s an increase the following season? That borders on the ridiculous, especially with all the developments in concussion research in recent times revealing just how debilitating these injuries can be.
Perhaps the folks who run the WHL aren’t aware of what is happening in NFL circles.
Here’s the start of a piece by Darren Heitner that appeared in Forbes Magazine earlier this week:
“On August 17, 2011, the first ‘NFL concussion lawsuit’ was filed by seven former football players and their wives. Roughly 10 months later, there are a total of 89 lawsuits with over 2,400 former NFL players named as plaintiffs, and a consolidated ‘Master Complaint’ that summarizes all of the players' claims against the NFL, NFL Properties (the merchandising and licensing arm of the NFL), and Riddell (the NFL helmet manufacturer).
“The listed defendants have until August 9, 2012 to file a responsive pleading, which will undoubtedly be in the form of a Motion to Dismiss. With the potential of billions of dollars in damages awarded to the thousands of plaintiffs (think Big-Tobacco-like liability), the NFL will pump a lot of money into trying to put the litigation to bed at an early stage.”
Think about that for a moment — “Big Tobacco-like liability.”
Heitner’s complete piece is right here and should be mandatory reading for anyone involved in managing a team or a sports league. By the way, Heitner is an attorney.
Meanwhile . . . the WHL left its playoff format in place; in fact, it said it will remain the same for the next two seasons. . . . The WHL said it will release its preseason schedule on June 21 and its regular-season schedule on June 27.
THE COACHING GAME:
Dave Allison is the new head coach of the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen. He replaces Jared Bednar. The NHL’s St. Louis Blues had announced Tuesday that Bednar’s contract wouldn’t be renewed. Allison, 53, is a veteran coach who had been on the scouting staff of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He will stay with the Penguins through June 30. . . . Allison coached the AHL’s Iowa Stars from 2005-08. At that time, he worked under Doug Armstrong, who then was the GM of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and now is the Blues’ GM. . . .
Willie Desjardins, a former GM and head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, is the new head coach of the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . Desjardins, 55, has spent the last two seasons as an associate coach with Dallas. . . . Desjardins replaces Jeff Pyle. He and assistant coach Jeff Truitt were dismissed after a season in which the Stars went 31-40-5 and missed the playoffs. . . .
Sylvain Lefebvre has been hired as head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. . . . Lefebvre, 44, takes over from Clement Jodoin, who is to meet with Canadiens’ head coach Michel Therrien about an assistant coaching position in Montreal. . . . Lefebvre, who had a 19-season pro playing career, has been an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche for the last three seasons. . . .
Eric Veilleux revealed Wednesday afternoon that he won’t be returning as head coach of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes, who won the Memorial Cup last month as the host team. . . . There has been considerable speculation of late that he was in line for an NHL assistant coaching position.
There is nothing like baseball when it comes to statistics, trivial and otherwise.
Check out this piece right here from ESPN Stats & Information. It is loaded with interesting numbers and tidbits from the perfect game thrown by Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants last night.
For starters, the home plate umpire was Ted Barrett, who now is the only ump in MLB history to have called balls and strikes for two perfectos.
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