A former NHL player and a former NHL coach say they would like to see an NHL-specific concussions protocol implemented.
The three former players spoke to NHL.com after the league announced Monday it would not seek an exemption for players to play during the 2017-18 season.
The players said they would prefer a different rule, but would welcome a more comprehensive rule.
“The rule itself needs to be a rule, not a guideline,” said veteran forward Alex Goligoski, who played for the Devils, Capitals and Capitals in the 1970s.
“We need to have some sort of a guideline for when you play in the league.”
The NHL has been working with an organization called the National Hockey Concussion Task Force since the 2015-16 season.
It has also worked with the American Hockey League, NHL Players’ Association and other stakeholders to create a concussion protocol.
The goal is to come up with a set of guidelines and a set goal for players and teams to work toward.
In the meantime, former players have urged the league to include a specific rule that would limit the number of hits and headshots allowed during games.
That rule would be made permanent in 2018.
“You need to be able to tell the difference between when somebody’s going to hit you or when they’re going to block your shot,” said forward Alex Galchenyuk, who has been a part of the NHL since 2007.
“When you see somebody block a shot, it makes it hard to block a play and make sure you’re not taking a hit.
It’s a little bit different in that situation.”
Galchenyak also cited the league’s recent efforts to reduce hits and hits to the head, including the introduction of the helmet-to-helmet rule.
He said that would help with players who are prone to concussions and players who can get their head caught in the boards.
“I think that’s the most important thing to take care of,” Galchenyaks coach says.
“They need to get some sort, I think, of a protocol and a rule for when they are going to be going to the ice.”
The former players said their biggest concern is the lack of transparency in the rule.
There’s not a lot of information out there about what the protocol will look like.
“It’s hard to say,” said defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
“It would be a lot easier to make sure if somebody’s in a situation where they can be hit and they’re not going to take a hit or block a puck, they would know how to play.”
The goal, former NHL players say, is to reduce concussions in the sport and to eliminate them entirely.
“There’s no reason for that,” said former Devils defenseman Kyle Palmieri.
“The way the rules are written, there’s no way you can prevent it.
There is no way to make it harder.
You just have to play.
It takes a lot to do that.”