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Monday's Hot Coals: Cruel Summer

With less than a month to go before training camp opens league-wide, excitement for the upcoming NHL season should be building, but instead, it seems that the summer will continue to drag on marred by sadness and question marks off the ice. 

After the death of Rick Rypien last week, the second player death of the summer for the league, scrappy veteran Dave Scatchard announced his retirement today because of ongoing concussion problems after 659 games and 11 seasons in the NHL. After the league was forced to re-evaluate its policies and attitudes towards head injuries and their ramifications after criticism from current and former players whose lives and careers were altered by concussions, it must now re-examine the way it handles players dealing with non-hockey related problems after the deaths of Derek Boogaard and Rypien, both known for their knuckle-chucking abilities on the ice.

Testimonials from others who have made a career out of pounding the opposition into a bloody pulp have revealed just how much of a toll fighting for a living can take on the mind as well as the body, and it has taken two player deaths to alert the NHL to the fact that it needs to make changes to its behavioural health program. Thankfully nobody has yet had to lose their life for the league to recognize the danger of hits to the head, but it remains to be seen if action on the latest round of issues will be more expedient as a result of these tragedies. 

Links after the jump. 

Dave Scatchard announces the details of his retirement over Twitter...we truly do live in the digital age [Puck Daddy]

The Edmonton Oilers have hired Duane Sutter as a pro scout after he was let go by the Flames in June [The Edmonton Journal

A new season of Battle of the Blades is set to get underway this fall, this time featuring a female competitor in Olympian Tessa Bonhomme [CBC Sports]

How has Brent Sutter improved as a Head Coach since he first arrive in Calgary? [Flames Nation]

Last but not least, in non-hockey related news, Canada lost a great man and a great politician today in Jack Layton, who succumbed to cancer this morning at the age of 61. Take a moment to view and add to the guestbook of condolences and read his letter to Canadians, even if you didn't agree with his views of those of his party [CBC News