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NHL to Revamp Concussion Monitoring System

Under proposed changes WidemanGate may never have happened.

Calgary Flames v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Hey everybody! Remember WidemanGate? I sure do. For those who maybe didn’t watch any hockey at all last season or simply drank away the pain of what could have been at the trade deadline, here’s a brief summary:

Dennis Wideman was the recipient of a heavy hit into the end boards by Nashville Predator Miikka Salomaki. Wideman picked himself up off the ice and skated uneventfully to the Flames bench to shake it off. Or he would have had he not tried to skate directly through linesman Don Henderson an action that was subsequently blamed on the effects of having just sustained a concussion. Thus began the WidemanGate, which is still unfolding to this day, long after his 20 game suspension has been served and the following season is set to begin.

The entire thing could have been avoided (or at least not become the controversy that it did) had Wideman been removed from the game for NHL concussion protocol by the coaching staff as they had been advised to do by the concussion spotter in the building that night. Wideman didn’t miss a single shift and thanks to that one oversight by Mr Hartley, as far as the NHLPA and NHL are concerned, there is no definitive proof one way or the other (it depends on which side you are on) that Wideman did/didn’t actually have a concussion.

So why do I bring it up today? Well, it seems that the NHL has learned something from all of this. Yesterday, Stephen Whyno of The Associated Press reported that the NHL is revamping their concussion monitoring system with testing set to begin during the World Cup of Hockey tournament proper:

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says the league will have four concussion spotters watching all games from a centralized location in either Toronto or New York, as well as spotters at each game to check for visible symptoms. Those spotters will have the authority to have players removed from games.

Previously, there had been team-affiliated concussion spotters in each arena and they could recommend but not require players be removed from a game.

With the authority afforded the concussion spotter for the upcoming season, a situation such as the Wideman suspension will hopefully never occur again. The spotter in the Saddledome during the game wouldn’t have had his recommendation ignored, he simply could have pulled Wideman from the game himself to follow protocol.