Skip to content

Retirements of Paul Kariya and Dave Scatchard send clear message to NHL about concussions

Aug 23, 2011, 10:22 AM EDT

Ben Walter, Dave Scatchard AP

The message has been out there all along for the NHL when it comes to concussions: Do something smart about it or start losing players sooner than not.

Seeing the retirements of Paul Kariya and now Dave Scatchard this summer that message was not-so delicately hammered home as red flags for the league. The NHL is figuring out a way to find the balance between maintaining the speed and beauty of the game while trying to keep the potentially ugly parts of it under some kind of control.

In Scatchard’s case, his history of dealing with concussions forced him out of the game and it’s affecting how he lives his life off the ice. While Scatchard announced his retirement via Twitter, he made it clear that he had to hang it up because doctors at the Mayo Clinic advised against him playing hockey again. For Scatchard, when there are basic things you can no longer do, that’s a big problem as Randy Starkman of The Toronto Star reports.

“Even today I have trouble pushing my kids on a swing set,” said Scatchard from his home in Phoenix. “Just the motion makes me really nauseous. Wrestling around with them on the ground, I can only do it for a minute or two and then I just feel sick. Any rolling motions or spinning motions just completely send me for a loop.”

Scatchard’s career came to an end during an AHL game thanks to a late hit. Paul Kariya saw a host of different hits conspire to end his career, some which were “legal” at the time and others that weren’t legal ever. Kariya’s farewell to the league was less of a sad thing because a once brilliant player was hanging it up, but more of a bitter situation because it all stopped too soon. As Kariya told The Globe & Mail’s Eric Duhatschek at the time, the league has to serve notice to those who are going out of their way to hit their fellow man in the head.

Kariya went on to say that every hit that ever knocked him out came as a result of an illegal hit.

“Every single one,” he reiterated. “I’m not saying you’re going to ever eliminate concussions completely because it’s a contact sport, but if you get those out of the game, then you eliminate a big part of the problem.

“A two-game suspension? That’s not enough of a deterrent.”

And you know what? Kariya is right. While fans are twisted up wondering when (or if) Sidney Crosby is going to play this season, and after two weeks in a row of Penguins executives and Crosby’s agent tip-toeing around how Crosby’s actually doing there’s something amiss, the first thing the league has to do is start coming down hard on those who go out of their way to target the head.

This is one thing the new disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan is going to have to nip in the bud and fast. Colin Campbell’s clandestine ways of determining what was a “legal” blow and what wasn’t set a dangerous and awful precedent that Shanahan needs to not follow along with. With Shanahan being a guy who has played in the current style of the NHL he should be more than aware who the bad seeds are and how fast things can go wrong. Let’s hope that he can lead the charge to helping clean up a beautiful game whose warts are showing when it comes to protecting its players.

Latest Posts
  1. Sakic on Giguere: ‘His achievements speak for themselves’

    Aug 21, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    Jean-Sebastien Giguere AP

    A Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe in separate years is a nice legacy.

  2. Poll: Who makes up for James Neal’s goals in Pittsburgh?

    Aug 21, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin AP

    No one scored more Pens goals than he did the past three seasons.

  3. Agent: Bryzgalov ‘loved’ Minnesota, really wants to return

    Aug 21, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31: Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Minnesota Wild reacts to play during a break in the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on March 31, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The Minnesota Wild won 3-2. Getty Images

    “He has instructed me to do all I can to facilitate a return to the Twin Cities.”

  4. Bertuzzi lawyer: Settlement reached, Moore’s brother ‘does not know what he is talking about’

    Aug 21, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

    Bertuzzi Moore

    “Nor is he very smart to have made untrue defamatory statements such as these.”

  5. Sounds like San Jose handled stripping Thornton’s captaincy really well

    Aug 21, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

    Joe Thornton Getty Images

    “I talked with Todd today, and he never mentioned anything about captains or assistant captains.”

  6. Under Pressure: Mike Johnston

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT

    Mike Johnston, Jim Rutherford, Rick Tocchet AP

    All the first-time NHL head coach has to do is get Pittsburgh to the promised land. No biggie.

  7. Looking to make the leap: Simon Despres

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT

    Simon Despres Getty Images

    The 23-year-old defenseman may get a real shot this season.

  8. Tanguay helped sell Iginla on Colorado

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Alex Tanguay Getty Images

    They were teammates in Calgary for two seasons.

  9. It’s Pittsburgh Penguins Day at PHT

    Aug 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby Getty Images

    The pressure is on Sid and Geno now after a summer of change.

  10. Sens GM says they’re ‘definitely going to try to keep’ Bobby Ryan

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Craig Anderson, Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan, Patrick Wiercioch AP

    He can be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

  11. ‘Canes GM Francis says Semin will be ready for training camp

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT

    Ron Francis Getty Images

    Recovery from offseason wrist surgery put things in doubt.

  12. Poll: Who will replace Hartnell on Philly’s first line?

    Aug 20, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Brayden Schenn Getty Images

    Giroux and Voracek will need someone new to run with them.

  13. Captain no more: Sharks strip Thornton of ‘C’

    Aug 20, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

    Joe Thornton Getty Images

    Patrick Marleau can coach him through it.

  14. Tank defense: NHL changes up Draft Lottery format

    Aug 20, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT

    Bill Daly lottery Getty Images

    It’s not as good to be the worst anymore.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches