Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A doctor's prescription for hockey: Stop the violence and play hockey

Rajendra Kale, MD, may be a relative newcomer to Canada, but that hasn't stopped him from weighing in on the great debate among hockey circles of the impact of the violent aspects of the game and the effect that those aspects are having on those that play it.

Dr. Kale, who is the interim Editor in Chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, offered up some thoughts on fighting in the NHL, through an editorial that reviews the toll that fighting and the concussion issues have had on the players.

As might be expected, his diagnosis of the condition in the NHL and his suggestion that the NHL bring to an end the era of the hockey fight isn't one that is being universally accepted by the league and its players.

Like many editorial offerings, the doctor's clinical observations into the debate have spurred on a bit of push back from players, Kevin Bieksa of the Canucks speaks for what would seem to be many of the players in the Globe and Mail as one who isn't inclined to take the doctor's guidance.

“Is he on the Board of Governors for the NHL? Then who cares what this guy thinks?” said Bieksa. “Fans have their opinions, but at the end of the day they're not going to change our game.”

“I think fighting is part of the game,” he added. “(Kale's) a doctor and we're making him a little bit of money on the side. He gets to fix us up. We'll let him do his job, and he should let us do our job.”

So far, since the release of the editorial, there has been little to no official reaction from the NHL or the NHLPA,  collectively perhaps both are subscribing to the theory that if they don't talk about it, the issue will just fade from view and move off the daily sports headlines.

However, in a year where the daily recitation of the names of played the aren't playing tonight due to concussion issues is becoming a lengthy one, we somehow don't think the NHL and NHLPA's approach is going to be a successful strategy.

In reality, the issue of concussions, fighting and questionable hits is going to remain the elephant in the room for Gary Bettman and the owners for the foreseeable future, a small glimpse of some of the reaction to Dr. Kale's editorial can be found below.

Globe and Mail -- Medical journal editor calls for an end to fighting, head shots in NHL
Edmonton CTV-- U of A concussion expert weighs in on hockey fight debate
CBC Sports-- This was not a good year for hockey
CBC Sports-- Windsor reacts to call for hockey violence ban
CBC Sports-- Hockey fighting ban may be premature, researcher suggests
Vancouver Province-- Fighting is part of hockey, fans argue
Montreal Gazette-- Stop hockey fighting, hits to head: doctors The call for banning fighting in hockey will not stop concussions
Los Angeles Times-- Too many brain injuries spark a call to ban fighting in hockey
The Tyee-- Stop the violence and play hockey
Sports Illustrated-- Neurologist: NHL Should ban Fighting, head shots
NBC Sports-- Neurologist calls for ban on fighting
ABC News-- Hockey  Hits can lead to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

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