Like I have written on here several times, concussions are probably one of the worst injuries I have had to deal with. When I was suffering with a severe concussion and post concussion syndrome at the back end of 2010-2011 season, I effectively hid it from my coaches, which halted my recovery and kept putting it back by several months.
Last night as I was at home and browsing hockey news from several different outlets, I was astonished to stumble across a headline that said “Daniel Alfredsson is a game time decision”. What shocked me about it was that A) Alfredsson had already said to the media that he was suffering from a “brain injury” and B) the coaching staff even letting Alfredsson take part in the game day skate and to even entertain dressing a player who has a “brain injury”.
I know its the playoffs and “because its the cup” are on every players’ mind at this time of the year, but what the Ottawa Senators did with even considering Alfredsson for the game was irresponsible, full stop. The NHL has been for the better part of two years been saying how detrimental concussions can be to a player and has implemented several guidelines to aid and speed recovery and here we are with a team and a player who is quite willing to, quite frankly, shit on that code.
Luckily Alfredsson did not play, but let’s think if he would’ve. The Rangers vs Senators series has already seen some bad blood in the form of Matt Carkner’s antics in game two and let’s face it, the physicality of hockey always steps up a couple of notches in the playoffs. Imagine if Alfredsson got hit really hard. I’m not talking about being hit on the head, but a shoulder to shoulder hit. Normally that hit would’ve been no big deal, but for a concussed player the ramifications of getting nailed on the boards can have serious consequences, worst of which is the Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) which can lead to death. Whilst we don’t know the severity of Alfredsson’s concussion it is important to note that SIS can happen from even the mildest concussion.
Speaking from my own experience here, I was scared that it would happen to me when I was playing with a concussion. “Luckily” for me, I was aware enough of my state that I did not go into corners or play on the boards and literally got rid of the puck as soon as I had it. Now is that a way to play hockey? No! Is that a way that Senators fans, or Alfredsson’s teammates would want their Captain to play? Absolutely not!
Let’s also not forget that Alfredsson had back issues, which by and large ruined his 2010-2011 campaign. He has come back from that stronger than imagined and said in an interview earlier this season that as long as he was healthy and could put his body through the rigours of training he would extend his NHL career. Now at Alfredsson’s age (39) he needs to be smart with his training and work on perhaps more areas of his physique than a younger player would.
Alfie even training is pushing the boundaries with concussion. I am only imagining here that he has at least a Grade 2 concussion (depending on which Grading system you use), but any strenuous exercise he puts himself through at such an early stage of the injury is going to delay his recovery, which if it does will delay the amount he can train through the summer, which in turn will affect his game readiness for 2012-2013 season.
I don’t know how many times the NHL and other experts in the field of brain injury have said this, but concussions are not a laughing matter. They can have serious long-term if not permanent symptoms that can change one’s life for good.
While I can applaud Alfredsson’s desire to put himself on the line like that, I would much rather see him take his time and recover properly. The finger I’m wagging at, is at the Seantors’ coaching and medical staff to even entertain the idea of playing him by saying he is a game time decision. Surely the Cup is not worth risking the face of the franchise’s career? I doubt any Senators fans would like to see their Captain forced into retirement because of a brain injury.