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NHL's Shanahan talks concussions, goalie protection

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 4:51 PM / NHL Insider

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NHL's Shanahan talks concussions, goalie protection
Brendan Shanahan sat down for a Q&A to discuss concussions and goalie protection.

TORONTO -- Brendan Shanahan, the League's Senior vice President, Player Safety and Hockey Operations, met the media following the NHL General Managers meeting Tuesday. Here is a transcript of what he had to say:
 
We heard concussions are down in the NHL. Can you give us an update?
 
"It's still the early stages, but they seem to be down. But again, it's still the very early stage in the season.
 
Can you give us a ballpark figure of how much they are down?
 
"Less than half at the same time last year. It's a significant improvement and I give the credit for that certainly to the players. We'd love to get rid of all (concussions), but we know that we're not going to be able to get rid of all concussions. I take each and every one of them personally now, but the numbers and strides that the players have made and the efforts they have made so far have been really commendable."
 
Will the discussion with the goalies and protection that was held in the meeting today change your approach at all?
 
"We had a really good conversation about the issue. Darcy (Regier, Buffalo GM) and I had a passionate conversation about it the other day and we had more talk about it today seeking direction from the general managers and their feelings toward goaltenders. Going through that discussion today I think there is certainly a very heightened sensitivity to the goalies in this League. Certainly they are not fair game. Players have to understand that. The general managers expressed to me the importance of all the players on the ice, but also the extreme importance of the goaltender. So I do think that is something as a message to the players around the League, if anybody does think it's a tactic and a tactic that is a smart gamble on their part, it won't be."
 

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With this mandate from the GMs regarding heightened sensitivity toward the goalies, if the same play that happened between Ryan Miller and Milan Lucic in Saturday's game were to happen again, will it be a suspension?
 
"I look at each and every play individually. All I can say rather than going back and retrying any of my old cases or any cases from previous years, I think that some people in the room felt it should have been a suspension and some people in the room felt that the right decision was made. Regardless, going forward certainly the direction and the conversation of the issue was certainly of a heightened sensitivity to the well-being of our goaltenders. As I've said many times, I'm not a policy maker, I'm a policy enforcer. I looked forward to this meeting not just for the goaltenders' situation but for a few other situations that I've seen early in the season that I felt there was more clarification needed."
 
Can you give some examples?

 
"Collisions or accidental collisions that have occurred during the season. I tried to take the general managers through the process of a suspension, what gets applied, how it gets applied, when it gets applied."
 
Was there any significant change to the policies?
 
"This is not the time of the year for significant rule changes or policy changes. It was more of a discussion on the sensitivities of the job that I do and certainly the recognition of that it is not black and white, it is gray. I have heard this from guys who have done this job before me and I've recognized it in the short time I've been doing it, it's a learning experience and no two incidents are ever exactly alike."
 
Were there any player safety issues such as shoulder pads or hybrid icing discussed?
 
"We talked about hybrid icing, went through a video on that and some examples, and I think that is a conversation that is going to come up more in March. The same thing with shoulder pads. There was an update from (Vice President, Hockey Operations) Kris King on shoulder pads and some of the innovations that equipment companies are coming up with for softer pads."
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It's such a privilege to be one of these 80 great players to do this milestone, and it doesn't get better than this doing it where I started. It means a lot to me. A big thanks goes to all the players tonight who helped me to achieve that and also all the players through my career.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa after scoring his 1,000th career point on Thursday night in Ottawa
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