TIRIBTI - If a player is going to suffer a concussion during an NHL game, chances are it’ll be in the first period, according to research which is being released as Leafs’ training camp moves into full swing.
Mike Hutchison, a researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital, will present the findings Saturday at OuCH! — Outcomes following Concussion in Hockey — one of two major forums on concussions in Toronto this month.
The first-period phenomenon “could be because players and coaches are trying to set the tone of the game or because players have more energy and adrenaline at the start of a game,” said Hutchison, who also coaches minor hockey in the Greater Toronto Hockey League and is assistant coach for the University of Toronto’s varsity men’s hockey team.
Hutchison looked at almost 200 concussions in the NHL, between 2007 and 2010, and also found that forwards suffer more concussions than defencemen — likely because there are more of them and they have the puck more often.
Hutchison is among a half dozen speakers at OuCH! which begins at St. Mike’s at 8:30 a.m. Former NHLer Rob Zamuner, now with the National Hockey League Players Association, will be speaking as will conference organizer Dr. Michael Cusimano who heads the Canadian Brain Injury and Violence Research Team.
The goal of the conference is to educate the public about the growing number of concussions being sustained by young hockey players.
Speakers will also discuss psychiatric issues related to head injuries and hockey — a recent hot topic following the suicides of NHL enforcers Wade Belak, Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien.
On Sept. 26, York University will host the second annual Donald Sanderson Concussion Symposium, where the premature deaths will also be on the agenda.
“Recent studies have shown linked blows to the heads to depression,” said York sports psychology professor Paul Dennis. “That may not necessarily be the case with each of these players, but there is a link that is, at the very least, worth looking into further.
“It’s not a far stretch to think that multiple blows to the head can lead to depression.”
Dennis, who worked with the Leafs for 20 years as a player development coach, is strong advocate of concussion prevention.
“Perhaps it’s time we take a look at taking fighting out of the game,” he said. “When hockey is at its best, it’s not about the fights, it’s about skills.”