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. Prust blasts referee Watson after getting tossed from Game 2

    May 3, 2015, 9:58 PM EDT

    Brandon Prust Getty Images

    “He tries to play God. He tries to control the game and he did that tonight.”

  2. WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action

    May 3, 2015, 9:19 PM EDT

    Corey Crawford, Charlie Coyle AP

    There are three contests scheduled for Sunday.

  3. Stamkos, power play comes alive as Lightning take 2-0 series lead vs. Habs

    May 3, 2015, 8:52 PM EDT

    Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan AP

    The series will now return to Tampa Bay where the Lightning were 32-8-1 in the regular season.

  4. Lightning lose Cedric Paquette to undisclosed injury

    May 3, 2015, 8:19 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens - Game Two Getty Images

    This might lead to Jonathan Drouin playing in Game 3.

  5. Video: Stamkos ends goal drought in style

    May 3, 2015, 7:38 PM EDT

    Stamkos goal

    How far can the Lightning go if he gets hot?

  6. Video: Habs’ penalty trouble costs them early lead

    May 3, 2015, 7:14 PM EDT

    Filppula goal

    Valtteri Filppula snuck one by Carey Price.

  7. Report: Highly sought after BU goalie O’Connor in talks with three teams

    May 3, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    Matt O'Connor AP

    At one point 14 squads were believed to be interested in his services.

  8. Canadiens forced to adjust as Desharnais has the flu

    May 3, 2015, 6:19 PM EDT

    David Desharnais Getty Images

    It’s the first time he’s out of the lineup since the start of the 2014-15 campaign.

  9. Cooper: Drouin will play at some point in second round

    May 3, 2015, 5:46 PM EDT

    Jonathan Drouin Getty Images

    Exactly when that will be remains to be seen.

  10. Boudreau: Maroon can be a ‘big force’ for Anaheim

    May 3, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Anaheim Ducks v Winnipeg Jets - Game Three Getty Images

    He’s working nicely with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

  11. Good signs for Calgary: Hudler, Ferland take morning skate

    May 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v Calgary Flames Getty Images

    Both were at least some risk of missing Game 2.

  12. Smith-Pelly doesn’t want to ‘jinx’ Habs locking down Stamkos

    May 3, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT

    Steven Stamkos, Alexei Emelin AP

    Still zero goals and just three assists for the star sniper.

  13. Haula gets in Wild mix with Fontaine hurt

    May 3, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT

    Dwight King, Erik Haula AP

    Blackhawks fans probably remember him.

  14. Allowing scoring bursts is not how Blackhawks ‘want to play’

    May 3, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT

    Minnesota Wild v Chicago Blackhawks - Game One Getty Images

    Brandon Saad: “We have to regroup, refocus and get the job done.”

  15. Caps add some depth by recalling Schmidt

    May 3, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT

    Alexander Steen, Nate Schmidt AP

    It’s unclear if this is injury-related.

  16. Kreider ‘a huge difference maker’ for Rangers

    May 2, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images

    Didn’t waste time getting on the board in Game 2.

Featured video

Stanley Cup playoff Round 2 preview
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. M. Zuccarello (3027)
  2. M. Giordano (2036)
  3. C. Price (1910)
  4. N. Kronwall (1768)
  5. K. Letang (1715)
  1. A. Ovechkin (1554)
  2. N. Beaulieu (1517)
  3. J. Hudler (1511)
  4. L. Bouma (1451)
  5. R. Lehner (1441)