Former NHL star Eric Lindros made a name for himself in the world of hockey thanks to his physical play. Unfortunately, concussions ended his career early, forever altering his view on player safety. In a recent interview, Lindros suggested that the NHL should consider moving away from contact in an effort to improve player safety.
Lindros’ comments, as seen in the National Post:
“Let’s get right to it. You talk about me playing. I love hockey and I continue playing hockey. But it’s funny — the hockey I was playing all those years was really physical, and I have just as much fun (these days), but we don’t run into one another. We’re still having as much fun, the same enjoyment of it.
We know concussions are down in a league without contact.”
That’s a polarizing stance to take. Lindros will have a hard time finding fans who agree with his position, but he should be commended for voicing his controversial thoughts publicly. Concussions completely altered Lindros’ career and life outside of hockey, so it’s no surprise he’s suggesting an alternative that would have prevented his injuries.
It’s safe to assume Lindros’ idea will never fully come to fruition in the NHL, but it does open up some interesting conversations. If the NHL wants to truly cut down on concussions, what else is it willing to do or try to actually make a difference? What level of risk should be considered acceptable?
Checking is currently a core element of hockey and it’s doubtful any fans want to see the league move away from that. However, there are more steps the NHL could take to increase player safety and reduce the number of head injuries suffered each season. One of those steps would be to crack down on hits to the head, consistently punishing infractions the same way when a dangerous hit to the head occurs. Of course, that’d require some consistency by the NHL and its officials, which is asking a lot.