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Small sampling of players differ on whether or not to alter padding to prevent concussions

Feb 12, 2011, 10:24 PM EDT

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Steve Downie, Teddy Purcell, Steven Stamkos

We know that concussions and head shots have been talked about ad nauseum the last year or two and that it can get tiresome for some fans to read about something that no one really has an effective way to solve. A lot of the talk has turned to changing the way the players are equipped with their padding.

A lot of pressure has been put on the executives that run the NHL to find ways to help save the players from themselves and make it easier for players to stay safe. Some of the executives want to put the onus on the players to have them figure out what they want to see done.

Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times did a quick, informal poll of Tampa Bay Lightning players to see what they think of possibly cutting down on the soft shell padding on the shoulders and elbows. With team GMs and owners not being exactly sure what they want to do, it only makes sense that the players are similarly divided over whether or not cutting back on the padding would help out.

Asked if they would be willing to reduce the size and hardness of their pads to perhaps help prevent concussions, 10 of 11 Lightning players surveyed said yes.

There were some caveats.

“As long as the (shoulder pads) still protect you along the boards,” center Steven Stamkos said.

“As long as you won’t hurt your elbow if you fall,” right wing Teddy Purcell said.

The only player who said no was right wing Steve Downie, who said, “You’ve got to protect your shoulder. You start taking away padding, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Having so many differing opinions makes it tricky to figure out what in the world the right move is to make to help the players stay safe. If or when changes are made to the equipment there are going to be some guys that are left unhappy by that. Players have a comfort level that they’re used to and some guys are even superstitious about their gear meaning that changing that up can make a player that much more uncomfortable.

Of course, the key is to make it so the players are safer on the ice and if players are unwilling to adapt to those changes, that’s their problem. After all, if players are going to continue to play recklessly and without respect for one another, changes have to be made somehow.

For that, though, Vincent Lecavlaier may have hammered home the correct way to handle situations with bad blows to the head.

“I don’t think that makes a difference,” he said of pad sizes. “Suspensions, that would do it. It has to be black and white.”

Whether or not the NHL decides to open up that process and make things black and white is up to them. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

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