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Posts Tagged ‘shift length’

So what do you think about all the talk of head injuries in the media lately?

Are head injuries on the rise? Or are we simply getting better at diagnosing when someone has an injury? Or maybe as the salaries of the players keep getting bigger teams are realizing the need to protect their investment?

Case in point…

Reebok recently sponsored a conference on head injuries attended by the NHL, AHL, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey. Reebok coincidentally has a $10 million endorsement deal with Crosby who’s been sidelined with an injury since January.

But besides the increased imaging technologies to detect head injuries and the monetary value of the contracts associated with the top tier hockey players why are we seeing more head injuries?

Part of it has to do with the speed of the game.

Right now old-time players around North America are flipping over in their rocking chairs as I make the claim the game is faster today than it has ever been.

Here’re 4 reasons why.

1. The players are bigger, stronger and can generate higher levels of force than they could a generation ago. A stronger player has the capacity to generate force in less time and thus is more powerful.

2. The tactical aspect of the game has changed. Think back to the time of Bobby Orr or even Paul Coffee. Players used to be able to wind up around their goal and then go all the way weaving through the opposition.

Now it’s more of a game of dump and chase. Or a long pass from the red line that is deflected into the opponent’s end in order to get in a chance. Or a shoot in on a powerful to control the perimeter and set up a scoring chance.

3. The energetics of the game have changed. Not so many years ago it wasn’t uncommon for a star player to be on the ice for one or two minute shifts. And this wasn’t because they were caught out there during a penalty kill. Instead this was the regular length of a shift.

Now how fast do you think you can go if you had to last for 2 minutes. 80%? 90%? Maybe 95%?

Whatever that top end time limit was it definitely wasn’t your 100% and meant going much less than your top speed. Compare this to today’s shifts where players are looking to head to the bench after 40 seconds. Can you see how a shorter shift lends itself to being able to go faster than a longer one?

4. The rules of the game have changed. Previous to the last collective bargaining agreement defencemen used to be able to clear opponents out from in front of the net. And players skating through the neutral zone would feel the tug on on their jersey or a slight hook of a stick to disrupt their timing.

Not anymore. All of the tricks that were previously used to slow up an opponent have been dealt with as a result of new rules for officials to call any attempts to impede the flow of the game.

So in the end you’ve got bigger, faster players that are using a dump and chase style of play where the refs are looking to ensure the speed of the game is not disrupted.

Is it any surprise head injuries are on the rise?

Especially when you consider one of the young stars of the game never uses a protective device that would help absorb much of the force of a head injury if he ever suffered one.

Unfortunately for these reasons head injuries are here to stay and will only increase in severity and number.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                onsidehockeytraining.com