Bruins notes: NHL considers concussions rule

191545.jpg

Bruins notes: NHL considers concussions rule

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

RALEIGH, N.C. The NHL Board of Governors had their annual All-Star weekend meeting in Raleigh on Saturday, and concussions were certainly discussed.

But the consensus among the Governors, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league itself is that there isnt much presently that needs to be tweaked with Rule 48 or as its known in Boston, the Savard Rule that prevents blindside head shots and blows to the head from unseen angles.

Bettman admitted to a group of reporters prior to the Honda SuperSkills competition at RBC Center that concussions are up as an aggregate number in the NHL this season, but the commissioner also informed that headshots and blindside checks are also way down from seasons past.

It appears, and again I want to emphasize that it is a preliminary, the increase in concussions appear to be in the area of accidental and inadvertent situations as most did not involve any contact with the victims head by an opponent, Bettman said prior to the Honda SuperSkills competition at the RBC Center on Saturday. Im not saying no concussions came from hits to the head, but it appears the increase is coming from somewhere else.

While thats somewhat faulty logic because any concussions that a player like Marc Savard receives for the rest of his playing career can be traced back to Matt Cookes cowardly blindside elbow to the Bs centers head, many players are clearly pulling up in situations where blindside hits might have taken place in the past.

Either way, many NHL organization heads still want to keep making adjustments and changes that can help avoid concussions at all costs the kind of injuries that have Savard laid up and Sidney Crosby missing his third straight All-Star game.

"It's something the league is taking a very strong look at," said Bruins president Cam Neely. "Obviously, you want to keep the players in the lineup as much as possible. Concussions are an issue for the league and rightfully so.

We have a player like Savard out -- it's a big deal for us and it's a big deal in our market. Every team goes through it. When you've got guys out of the lineup, it affects your club."

Above and beyond the blindside hits, it would seem that the biggest culprits in these accidental concussions are the bulky, hard plastic shoulder pads favored by players and unforgiving plexi-glass above the boards in every NHL rink.

But GMs that havent recently been badly affected by franchise-crushing concussions had a bit more of a cavalier attitude about the concussion discussion, and felt it was all about Crosby missing time due to the injury.

"The concussion thing is the topic du jour, said Brian Burke. "It'll be shoulders next year if there's a rash of shoulder injuries. Frankly, I think the biggest reason we're focused on concussions is because of Sidney.

"If Mike Brown got that concussion, would you guys all be around with cameras asking about concussions? I don't think so."

The bottom line is that the NHL will again discuss the issue at the end of March when the GMs get together for their meetings, and that is when the framework of Rule 48 was put together last season following Matt Cookes cheap shot elbow.

"It's easy to say 'the league needs to do x, y and z on concussions' (but) it's not that simple," said Bettman. "Changing a rule which doesn't address what's actually causing the concussions may not be the right thing to do, changing equipment may not necessarily be the right thing to do.

"We spend a lot of effort on this subject, we know it's important."

Tyler Seguin said he enjoyed the All-Star festivities, though the 18-year-old said he lost feel for his stick and the puck while sitting out on the ice for nearly three hours through the entire SuperSkills competition.

Seguin also finished with a 97.1-mph slap shot in the hardest shot competition, and said afterward that Eric Staal picked him for it based on a summer Bauer camp in Atlantic Citythat the Canes superstar attended and took note of Seguin's shooting abilities."It was a great experience," said Seguin. "It was fun meeting all of these guys, and getting to know some of these super, superstars like Alex Ovechkin. He was on my team and that was pretty cool."You can learn a lot from watching these guys just like the kinds of things that I take away from all of my great teammates in Boston."

Seguin will fly back to Boston on Sunday and practice with the Bruins on Monday before flying back to Carolina with the team for Tuesday nights game against the Hurricanes at the RBC Center.

Tim Thomas became one of two goalies to be the first to ever participate in the fastest skater competition when he hopped on the ice in full equipment to dash against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. Thomas stumbled and fell behind his own net during the first turn, but very nearly caught up to Ward at the finish line where he ended with an 18.895 second time."Everyone was saying he might fall, but you could how hard he was trying and how much he wanted to win there," said Seguin.

Ward said afterward that Thomas was the only other goalie that agreed to take part in the competition, and the Bruins goalie had a smile of enjoyment on his face the entire time he was involved."I started to lose and then I tried to catch it, but I couldn't. 'Down goes Thomas', I guess, instead of 'Down goes Frazier," said Thomas. "I had never practiced it, but that's okay. The hometown boy won, but I think everybody knows who the faster skater was."Thomas was asked what B's GM Peter Chiarelli might have thought while watching his prized goaltender take a tumble while getting involved in a fastest skating competition."Nothing. He sees it about five times every day at practice anyway. That's why I was able to get so fast...because I have a lot of practice falling."Thomas said that there were discussions about the goaltenders taking part in the shooting accuracy competition as well, but the B's goaltender had philosophical issues with the setup of the contest. "We talked about doingit," said Thomas with tongue planted firmly in cheek. "But then I saw that they were usingMcDonald's targets on the corners. I'm a Burger King guy, so I pulled out of the competition."

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bjork returns to Notre Dame after impressing at Bruins' development camp

anders-bjork-071316.jpg

Bjork returns to Notre Dame after impressing at Bruins' development camp

Given that he’s a former fifth-round pick, he’s not a local guy with any Boston ties to speak of and that there isn’t a lot of fancy to his game, Anders Bjork might be a bit under the radar as far as Bruins prospects go right now. 

Still, the 19-year-old Notre Dame forward has been steadily rising among the ranks at the NCAA level and Bjork put on a pretty impressive show at B’s development camp right along with more hyped forwards like Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk.

Bjork showed great skating speed and a hard-nosed willingness to battle whether the puck was on or off his stick. Even better, he showed a finishing flourish with the puck whenever he was around the net. He was literally blowing by defenders with his speed throughout drills each and every day at camp, and it was hard not to notice. Time after time Bjork buried those chances earned through speed and tenacity and showed the offensive confidence that saw him lead Notre Dame in points (12 goals and 35 points in 35 games) last season as a sophomore.

“You can tell the guys that have been here. Grizzy [Matt Grzelcyk] has a great week and Anders [Bjork] has a great week because they’re just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “I mean they’ve played at the college hockey level for two, three, four years in some of these cases. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.

"In Anders’ case he gained a tremendous amount of confidence in the World Juniors last year and you can tell he’s carrying that over offensively. He also plays in a very tight system at Notre Dame, so the habits away from the puck are really ingrained in him. Now he’s looking to explore his offensive side.”

The good news for the Bruins: Bjork wants to keep improving on the offensive end and pump up the goal-scoring numbers in his third season with the Fighting Irish. If the week spent at Ristuccia Arena is any indication, Bjork should be lighting it up in Hockey East next season after being a second team All-Hockey East selection last season.

“I’m just working on trying to contribute a little more offensively, and really work on my goal-scoring and offensive abilities like that,” said Bjork, who is a bit of a legacy at Notre Dame with his father, mother, siblings and cousin NHL forward Erik Condra all having matriculated in South Bend as well. “Working on the little things in areas like goal-scoring and playing on the wall are what I’ve been focused on. The feedback from the Bruins has been really good, and really helpful.

“Sometimes they’ll check in after a game or after a weekend of games, and give really helpful feedback. Sometimes it’s even different than what my coach said, so it’s nice to get my viewpoint and sometimes they see things that my coach doesn’t notice. Stuff like that has been really helpful, and has helped me develop as a player definitely.”

Bjork said the Bruins have stressed consistency and greater focus in his game from shift-to-shift and game-to-game and that’s something he clearly took to heart in a dominant week at development camp. Given the rising number of college hockey players that are foregoing the teams that drafted them and become free agents following their senior seasons, one would expect that next season will be Bjork’s last at Notre Dame before signing with the Bruins.

The way that the 6-foot, 188-pound Bjork is improving his game each and every season after being projected a couple of years ago as a possible third-line player in the NHL, the Bruins should be looking to bring him into the Black and Gold fold sooner rather than later. 
 

Tuesday, July 26: Daley’s surprise visit with the Cup

cp_morning_skate-.jpg

Tuesday, July 26: Daley’s surprise visit with the Cup

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while never getting tired of the Bernie Sanders/Curb Your Enthusiasm parallels.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Trevor Daley making a surprise visit with the Stanley Cup and talking more about his emotional moment hoisting the Cup right after the win by the Penguins.

*Don Cherry and Ron MacLean get their just reward with a star on the Canada Walk of Fame after years of great hockey entertainment.

*Adam Larsson has heard the fan reaction in Edmonton after being traded for Taylor Hall, and he’s downplaying it all.

*A lack of a deal for RFA defenseman Jacob Trouba with the Winnipeg Jets doesn’t mean Trouba trouble quite yet. But it sure doesn’t sound like things are all ducky in Winnipeg.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Rosen sits down with Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka to answer five questions about his new gig, and some big changes for the Desert Dogs.

*Scott Powers has Jimmy Vesey’s camp confirming that the Chicago Blackhawks will be one of the teams on Vesey’s “short list” when he speaks with teams on Aug. 15. Watch out for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks, who have been out to see Vesey a couple of times in Foxboro over the last month.

*The Washington Capitals continue to build depth among their forward group, and have constructed a strong roster for next season.

*For something completely different: if you love baseball or have ever enjoyed some of the truly great Dan Shaughnessy columns over the years, you will enjoy this column from Shaughnessy about his Hall of Fame induction. Congrats to Dan, a true titan in our industry.