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Concussion debate highlights world hockey summit

Tuesday, 08.24.2010 / 5:01 PM / News

Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) -One of hockey's top doctors warns of the danger of players returning too soon from head injuries.

Dr. Mark Aubry, the chief medical officer of the International Ice Hockey Federation, said recent studies and reports on the severity of concussions have heightened awareness.

"I think it makes us stand up ... and say, 'OK, what are we doing?"' Aubry said. "When is the number of concussions too many in allowing that young player to return to play?"

Aubry spoke Tuesday on the second day of the world hockey summit. He was joined by Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's vice president of hockey and business affairs.

Aubry has helped organize symposiums on concussions during his career. He said injuries have risen significantly at the peewee level when many youngsters first experience bodychecking.

"We're exposing these kids to an increased risk of injury at an age where I think we should still be talking about skill development and having fun," Aubry said. "That's where I think that hopefully things may change."

The debate on when to allow bodychecking - or whether to have it at all - was one of the livelier subjects. Coaching styles, equipment changes and player safety concerns also were discussed.

Steve Norris, a doctor who has worked with Hockey Canada the past 15 years, started the session by discussing athlete development and the behavior and growth of young players.

Bob Boughner, president of the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires, was not overly optimistic about immediate change.

"You'd like to hope there are some ideas that spark some thought and maybe some decision making," he said. "But for the things said today, are things going to change tomorrow? Probably not. But hopefully they'll be part of future discussions."

Among those in attendance were Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, national women's hockey coach Melody Davidson and Canadian Hockey League president David Branch.

The four-day event began Monday night at the Hockey Hall of Fame with panel discussions. On Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will hold a question-and-answer session.

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