Last week as I was hanging up my shoulder pads my partner, Kurt Davis, asked me how long I had been wearing them and why I even bothered. He commented on there hardly being any protection on the chest or back and how the shoulder caps are very small.
After his comments I took a look around at the other shoulder pads in the room. My shoulder pads looked like a dress shirt with bottle caps when compared to the robocop like pads worn by everyone else. Does this newer style of equipment make it safer for the person wearing them but more dangerous for everyone else?
You bet it does.
Concussions are everywhere. It is time to take the armor off of Robocop.
I suggest taking all plastic off of equipment above the waist. Only soft padding for elbow and shoulder pads. Helmets would stay the same but I would no longer allow visors.
These measures would reduce head injuries in two different ways. The first is obvious: contact wouldn’t start with a hard surface. Not having the plastic on the pads, even if it is covered by an inch of padding could save some trauma.
The less obvious result of no plastic is the hitters wouldn’t feel so invincible. Right now when a player delivers a check they don’t feel much of it. They can go in with reckless abandon. If they had less protection they wouldn’t go in quite as hard because they would feel some of the blow as well.
I think that visors are a good piece of equipment but it contributes to the "invincible" mentality. Even in the short time I have been in Sweden wearing a visor I find myself being more aggressive in the way I play physically. I have been leading more with my shoulder and (indirectly) my face to get hits, something I never did without a visor.
If we all were suddenly forced to trade in our trucks and SUVs for a Le Car I am pretty sure we would all be alot more cautious on the road. With less protection from airbags and the sheer size of a truck around us we would feel alot more vulnerable. This is the same reaction all hockey players would have with the change of equipment.
Taking the equipment back to where it was at 20 years ago would create more shoulder injuries, of that I am sure. But when there is an average of one player per team sitting out with concussion issues I think it would be a reasonable trade off. Shoulder injuries average around four weeks to heal. Ask Sidney Crosby if he would trade that timeline for the one he is currently on.
It is time to address the equipment issue and gearing down Robocop is the place I think we should start.
SWEDISH CHRISTMAS GREETINGS
One of my favorite parts of playing in Europe is experiencing other cultures traditions. Last week we went to a Swedish Christmas dinner. It was great. There were thirty different varieties of pickled herring! I am not sure I like it that much but the Swedes love it!
I hope everyone has a great Christmas and that it snows in Edmonton for you all. Who doesn’t want a White Christmas?
As we say here in the old country: God Jul!