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

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.