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NHL Injury Analysis: Concussion Season

William Lee

William Lee

William Lee writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


This season has been the season for concussions. Every team seems to have several key players out with a concussion.

Daniel Briereof Philadelphia was immediately diagnosed with a concussion after his game. So whatever hit he received was significant enough to cause immediate trauma to the brain. We have to remember that concussions are injuries to the brain. It is not a muscle or joint so the impact can be widespread so the seriousness of this type of injury can never be understated. The only positive for the Flyers is that the All-Star break is coming so there will be extra time for Briere to recuperate. As with other players with concussions, you can never predict when a player will return and how they will react as they slowly increase their activity. He will need to pass each test before he will be allowed to get back on the ice. The impact of concussions can also be seen in other ways.

Evander Kaneof Winnipeg was recently diagnosed with a concussion as well but they are not sure when he sustained the injury. A concussion does not always stem from a violent collision and the symptoms are not always immediate. Such as any contact support when impact to the head is likely, head injuries can be cumulative as well. It may have been a series of small hits that did nothing except make Kane a little upset because he thought he got hit with a cheap shot. But the effects can be cumulative. The brain needs time to recover and heal but this may not always occur in a season. This is why the NHL takes a strong stance on suspect hits. The league can't stop hard hits nor should they but the league can make some effort to help the players have a happy and productive life after hockey. No one ever wants to see a player's career end early due to concussions (ex; Eric Lindros).

Other injuries can also prematurely end a player's season. Blair Betts of Philadelphia will likely be out for the rest of the season. He has been fighting a knee injury that he has not been able to rehabilitate. It initially did not start as a serious injury. But it was an injury that stopped the Canadiens from getting him off the waiver wire. It is unclear exactly what type of injury he was trying to rehabilitate. But it is clear is that his knee is not right. He must still be experiencing pain and swelling. He is probably having some difficulty getting the strength in his legs, especially in his quads, back. Research has shown that there is a link between the ability to control the hip and the muscles around the hip, especially the glute medius, and knee dysfunction. So the question may be whether this problem is a localized knee issue or does it include other areas and is this a secondary problem to some other problem? This is a very difficult question that the medical staff has been trying to answer in getting Betts back on the ice.

The same can be said for Andrei Markov of Montreal. He had arthroscopic surgery done in December and he has yet to start skating. There has been no word on his progress, which is a bad thing. I get the feeling that there is a very good chance that he may not be back this year. I wonder what is holding him back - pain, swelling or weakness? Occasionally, a second surgery may be warranted to go in and see what may be the issue and correct it.

Medical issues may also take a player of the ice. Henrik Tallinder of the NJ Devils was diagnosed with thrombophlebitis. This medical condition requires treatment right a way. The condition is an inflammation of the vessels due to a blot clot. Generally, these conditions respond well to treatment. The seriousness arises if there are any complications such as the blot clot dislodging and travelling to other organs such as the lungs. The location of the blot will impact the choice of treatment by the medical staff. It should not be too long before he is back on the ice.

Adam Hall of Tampa was diagnosed with a torn muscle in his arm in early January and was expected to be out for about eight weeks. He has recently started to skate with a non-contact jersey on. I don't necessary think this is any thing to get too excited about. He may be ahead of schedule but he is still probably around 3 weeks from getting back in the line up. Two things that would be important to his progress will be shooting and hitting. The exact muscle that is torn is not known so the impact on his hockey skills cannot be determined. But I would assume that his shooting is probably not where it was before the tear and will need a couple of weeks to develop the strength and dexterity to shoot normally. Hitting is simple: can he take and deliver a hit?

Lastly, Dustin Byfuglien of Winnipeg may be nearing the end of his rehab. He started to practice with a noncontact jersey. What initially started as a minor injury in late December, during which time the sentiment was that he would be back in a week or two, ended up being nearly 4 weeks of rehab on his knee. This is representative of the time it can take to sufficiently rehab even "minor injuries" so they can get back to their prior level of skill. Of course, there is the normal healing time for tissue to heal but one has to add the rehab time it. At this point, Byfuglien will start too increase the intensity of the workouts. And once his leg is stable enough, he will start the contact. The All-Star break will give him added time. He may be back in about two weeks or so.