CALGARY, Alberta – With a new season approaching, the Western Hockey League summoned its general managers and coaches to a meeting to address how the league intends to get tough on concussions and blows to the head.
It was an unusual step for the league to bring all management and coaches from its 22 teams at a time of year when they’re preoccupied with their training camps. The 2011-2012 season opens Sept. 22.
But a memo on this matter would not suffice, WHL commissioner Ron Robison said.
“We realize that it’s all about wins and losses, making the playoffs and having a championship-caliber team,” Robison said. “That’s what coaches are charged with. … We have one more challenge we have to face. We need a correction. We’ve acknowledged we have a problem and we have to address it. It’s in the best interests of the game to do that.”
Concussions are the hot topic in hockey, given Sidney Crosby’s absence from the NHL from concussions he suffered last season and struggle of Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard with post-concussion symptoms.
The men at Tuesday’s meeting were informed of, and discussed at length, the WHL’s “Seven-Point Plan” adopted at their annual general meeting in June.
One of the seven points of that plan was Tuesday’s mandatory seminar held at an airport hotel to make sure all coaches and GMs know what is expected this season when it comes to on-ice violence the league deems excessive.
“It was real important for us to get the coaches in here,” Kelowna Rockets owner and WHL chairman Bruce Hamilton said. “The coaches are the people who are with these kids 10 hours a day really.”
All three major junior leagues, including the Ontario and Quebec League, have adopted some form of policy on concussions and blows to the head for this season.