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

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

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It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL.