With the regular season just around the corner, the NHL has announced some changes to it’s concussion protocol. Two of the major changes are the addition of a “concussion spotter staff” and the mandated removal of any player deemed to have a concussion from the game. Here’s the press release from the NHL regarding the changes:
“NEW YORK/TORONTO (Oct. 11, 2016) – The National Hockey League (NHL) announced today the implementation of a number of new policies and procedures to enhance the NHL/National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Concussion Protocol. While it remains an individual Club’s responsibility to identify a Player who requires removal from play and evaluation for possible concussion, the NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to provide additional support to help identify Players who require evaluation under the NHL/NHLPA Concussion Protocol. A new staff of Central League Spotters will monitor all games from the Player Safety Room in New York and will be authorized to require a Player’s removal from play for evaluation for concussion if the Player exhibits certain visible sign(s) under the Protocol, following a direct or indirect blow to the head. In-Arena League Spotters and On-Ice Officials will complement the Central League Spotters and will also monitor play for signs of possible concussion.
Specified sanctions will be imposed on Clubs that violate the Concussion Protocol. Clubs that do not remove a Player who requires an evaluation will be subject to a mandatory minimum fine for a first offense, with substantially increased fine amounts for any subsequent offense. Additionally, any Player designated for a mandatory evaluation will not be permitted to re-enter the game unless and until he is evaluated by his Club’s medical staff and cleared to play in accordance with the Protocol.
The staff of Central League Spotters that have been retained by the League are all certified athletic trainers who have clinical experience working in elite level hockey, and have received training on the visible signs of concussion in the Protocol. The Central League Spotters will observe every NHL game via television broadcast. The In-Arena League Spotters are also employed by the League as Off-Ice Officials. In-Arena Spotters also have received training on the visible signs of concussion and will be assigned to ensure that they will be dedicated solely to the spotting function during games in which they have been designated as the In-Arena Spotter. The In-Arena League Spotters will observe games live, in the arenas. While all Spotters (Central and In-Arena) will be able to communicate freely with one another during games, only the Central League Spotter will communicate with the Club’s medical staff if a Player requires removal and evaluation under the Protocol.
On-Ice Officials are also authorized to require a Player’s removal for evaluation if they observe a Player displaying visible signs of concussion under the Protocol, following a direct or indirect blow to the head. In addition, On-Ice Officials now have the authority to mandate the removal of a Player from the game if the Player continues to play after the Central League Spotter has communicated to the Club medical staff that a mandatory evaluation is required. “