The Devil unfortunately joined the all too familiar ranks of the mildly concussed club last week. In our final game of the regular season, which we tied 1-1 with our goaltender on the bench and less than a minute left in the game (a brief digression I am not the least bit ashamed to boast about in light of our team’s recent shortcomings in terms of victories), my youngest collided in open ice with an oncoming opponent. I didn’t actually see the collision, as I was apparently engrossed by something happening elsewhere in the game at that moment. I was told the impact catapulted her backwards to the unforgiving ice below, which in turn, dealt its own harsh blow to her helmet-clad, but obviously not fully protected, noggin. I supposed when your head is thrust at any immovable surface a bit of plastic and foam is really only going to do so much in the way muffling the blow. We need only look at the rash of concussion-like symptoms that have plagued hockey from the National Hockey League on down to the minors for proof of the same.
The Devil, for her part, came to the bench with tears in her eyes, signalling immediately she was hurt as she has a history of having a pretty high tolerance to pain. Having not seen the hit, I also thought there may have been some degree of frustration ahead of those tears. Only a few moments later and in need of an extra skater to take the place of our purposely displaced goaltender, I asked her quickly if she was ok, to which she nodded and was ushered back into the play. In retrospect and in future, I will be sure to do a better job assessing the fitness level of any players who have returned to the bench after a fall, whether they make it there under their own steam – shedding tears or not. A second fall or hit, accidental or otherwise, may have had a more detrimental effect.
Immediately following and for a couple of days after our last match, the Devil complained of a fairly persistent headache. Mom, as both cautious mother and now experienced trainer, decided to take her to the clinic for an assessment which confirmed the likelihood that she sustained a mild concussion as a result of her head-first meeting with her frozen nemesis. She has been advised to not play hockey until she is symptom free for at least a couple of days. She was even given a potential pass on her high-school exams, an option which she surprisingly did not exercise (particularly when it came to a daunting Math final). So now we will wait and watch; perhaps not unlike her favourite player Sidney Crosby has waited and been watched. There is undoubtedly a heightened awareness to the dangers of head trauma in this and other games. Thankfully gone are the days of smelling salts acting as fog-reducing remedies to get players back on the playing field as quickly as possible. It’s no longer enough to know the answer to “What’s your name?” or “What City are you in?” Rather, today we are starting to see bluetooth-enabled sensors affixed to helmets as a means to measuring the impact and damage caused by a shot to the head.
Maybe, for better or worse, this will be young Mr. Crosby’s legacy. We all hope he plays many more years of hockey. However, should that not be the case he would surely be a positive role model and advocate to which none could compare.
We will be upgrading the aforementioned protective headgear before her next foray onto the ice. Based on the Boy’s more up-to-date model, awareness has brought with it advancements in protection. We have our first playoff game this weekend, in which we will already be at least one player short, but there will certainly be no rush to put a single game ahead of anyone’s health; and particularly not the Devil’s. No bells will be rung before their time. Hockey will definitely take a backseat this time around.