Some players choose not to worry about concussions

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Some players choose not to worry about concussions

When people say athletes know the risks when they "sign up" to play sports, Taylor Twellman responds: "You don't sign up to be debilitated for the rest of your life and to struggle . . . You don't sign up, if you're Marc Savard, to get cold-cocked by Matt Cooke. That's against the rules." But not all athletes feel that way . . .

By MaryPaoletti
CSNNE.com

Concussions? Shawn Thornton says. Just dont ask me if Ive ever had one. Its bad luck.

You want to laugh.

MORE ON THIS STORY
THE PROBLEM: Istherea concussion 'epidemic' in hockey? Notnecessarily
THEVICTIMS: Fromoneextreme to the other: Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron
THE FACE OF THEPROBLEM:TaylorTwellman:One man's concussion story

Surely, this professional hockey player doesnt think that by simply ignoring concussions they wont happen. That kind of thinking is reserved for seventh-inning baseball crowds, lips sealed in belief that just one person need acknowledge a no-hitter to ruin it.

But Thornton is serious.

Fans who've watched the Bruins bruiser forecheck on a rush, or backcheck a guy into the boards, or jackhammer his fists into opponents faces might not believe he hides from concussions behind a superstition. But Thornton trusts in 14 years of NHL experience. To him, the superstition protects from concussions as well as any gear can.

I've seen people get knocked out with head gear and 16-ounce gloves, so if you get caught in the chin you're going to get a concussion. That's just the way it is.

We sign up for this, he continues. At the end of the day I go out there every night and I know people are going to be taking runs, but that's my job and I signed up for it. I'm okay with it. Maybe it's just human nature that we think about the positive stuff that's involved and not the negative.

We are hockey players. Athletes.

The Us -vs.-Them distinction is important in todays moral panic about head injuries in sports. Marc Savards announcement of the end of his season on February 9, 2011 was an emotional and alarming moment in Boston, in hockey and in The Concussion Crisis. It was also a Redwood thrown on the medias fire.

The players want to play.

This is why Savard ashen and deflated could describe his post-concussion pain before a room of 30 writers and photographers and dismiss the idea of retirement. Athletes arent scared to return; risk is in nature of the profession. Owning some degree of a God complex is what pushes Them to the apex of their abilities.

It's absolutely true, Thornton says without a trace of a smile. We think we're invincible.

Teammate Brad Marchand elaborates. He says pro athletes lose their edge when they start to contemplate their mortality.

Watching Savard suffer doesnt really change my game. I have to get in there, get in the mix," Marchand says. Once you start sitting back a bit, I think thats the time when most injuries happen, when youre trying to jump out of the way of hits. Thats when you might get blindsided.

The desire of hockey players, or any athletes, to keep playing after suffering concussions isnt foolish; the sport is life. Thankfully, science and medicine are making strides to support this passion by properly treating brain injuries. Education on the subject has increased exponentially in the last 10 years.

Thats the good news.

The battle? Keeping players honest about symptoms that will sit them on the bench.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.