Hockey’s Sanctioned Head Trauma

Arron Asham is a mixed martial arts fighter on skates.  He’s been playing the role of “enforcer” in the National Hockey League for many years, meaning that when someone on his team takes a hard legal hit, it’s up to Asham to goad the player in question into a fight.

The Philadelphia Flyers are no strangers to this, in fact having been nicknamed The Broad Street Bullies in the 1970s. But that was the 1970s and this is now.  We know alot more about head trauma, and most sports are taking swift and significant action against athletes who intentionally club an opponent to the head (except boxing, of course, which is head trauma jeopardy).

Enter Arron Asham, who played for the Flyers from 2008-2010, but now plays for the Penguins.  The Flyers’ Brayden Schenn puts a clean hit on a Penguins player near the boards, then braces for the anticipated retaliation by the goon, Asham.  But what he gets is a cross check by Asham’s stick under the chin – certified head trauma.

As if that weren’t enough, what you’ll see in this video is that after Ahsam batters Schenn with his stick, he takes the cheapest of all cheap shots hitting Schenn in the back of the head while he’s down on his knees – a bit more head trauma for good measure.

Asham was tossed form the game, but the NHL reportedly isn’t likely to fine or suspend him.  After all, Schenn was able to return to action, so how bad was he  “really” hurt?  But that misses the entire point of cumulative head trauma, something that the NFL is dealing with in more earnest now. Brendan Shanahan, the league’s disciplinarian, seems to have enough of a grasp of the Glasgow Coma Scale to hand out suspensions when warranted.  I’ll be optimistic that the league will take strong action and send a message to the Penguins on this one.  But if the NHL turns a blind eye toward goons like Asham, their initials may just as well stand for the National Headtrauma League.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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3 Responses to Hockey’s Sanctioned Head Trauma

  1. Ezra Wohlgelernter says:

    Well said. This is the same league where helmets were not even considered until a Minnesota North Stars player (Masterson?) died from a head injury. I fear that it will take an extreme case of brain injury before the NHL does anything about fighting. I am sure you have been to games when fights break out; it is a virtual Spartacus on Ice! The fans want this violence, pay for it, and the league continues to oblige them by continuing to tolerate this behavior.

  2. Daniel Wohlgelernter says:

    Great post, Len. Let’s face it: the NHL is “Gladiator” meets UFC on ice, and the biggest goons are the nimrods in the stands who scream for more blood.

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