January 19, 2012
NHLers need to use helmets in warmup
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
CALGARY - I was all prepared to say NHL players should be allowed to choose whether they wear a helmet during warmups.
They’re grown ups, so they should have some freedoms at the rink, even if going without such an important piece of protection seems foolish just so the fans can see their faces.
But one peek at the picture of Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall after he was injured during the warmup in anticipation of his team’s game Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets changed that immediately.
The Frankenstein-like run of stitches Hall has running from his left eyebrow to above his forehead, not to mention the swollen and blackened eye, is terrifying.
Sure, it’s an unlucky and extreme incident, but it proves every player should start wearing their helmets for warmup, whether they want to or not.
The fact Hall will miss a few games seems like a fortunate result after what could have been. The second-year standout tripped and fell, tangled up with teammate Ladislav Smid and eventually went into the feet of Corey Potter, who ended up stepping on his head.
As bizarre as Hall’s injury is, it’s not the first time a warmup accident has happened in the NHL over the last month.
Within the last 30 days, Ottawa’s Sergei Gonchar was plunked in the head by a puck during the warmup and missed a few games, while Calgary’s Tim Jackman was sporting a handful of stitches on his forehead after a puck ricocheted off the post or crossbar and hit him.
Three times in less than a month is not a fluke. It’s a trend.
That’s not to say no player would be injured during warmup if every skater wore their helmets and visors, but with all the pucks flying around during those 16 minutes, the chances would be reduced.
Minimizing risk is more important than looking cool. So is having players skating in the actual games.
The wave of injuries surrounding the Flames is hitting a point of absurdity. Sure, the Oilers and the Pittsburgh Penguins have higher end skaters out of action, but the Flames lead the Western Conference in man-games missed (more than 210 after facing the Los Angeles Kings Thursday) and are dealing without a pair of top-six forwards in Curtis Glencross and Alex Tanguay. Previously, they were without three of their five best blueliners. Sure makes a playoff spot difficult to reach ... By the way, those injury woes are happening with the AHL Abbotsford Heat, too. Greg Nemisz is out due to a shoulder injury, and expected to miss weeks. So much for an obvious callup ... If Jarome Iginla doesn’t click in a big way with Michael Cammalleri and Mikael Backlund, his run of 10 consecutive seasons with 30 or more goals could be coming to an end.
This season has been known for all the injuries, which makes Peter Mueller’s performance Wednesday for the Colorado Avalanche so uplifting. Mueller scored twice against the Florida Panthers to put 18 months worth of concussion problems behind him. His time in hell started April 4, 2010 — co-incidentally the last time Mueller had scored — when he suffered a concussion. He missed all of last season, and was shut down after three games this year ... Good on Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin for relaying the story that former Montreal Canadiens goalie and current St. Louis Blues puck-stopper Jaroslav Halak has also dominated him when he plays video games, too. “I was with my friend in my home, and we play video game and Halak stopped (everything). Halak was the first star of the day,” Ovechkin told the Washington Times ... What a strange year when Ilya Bryzgalov, Cam Ward and Ryan Miller are struggling while Brian Elliott and Mike Smith have been dynamite for their teams ... How bizarre is this? When the Vancouver Canucks play host to the San Jose Sharks Saturday night, it’ll only be the second time this season they’ve played the late Hockey Night in Canada game at Rogers Arena and the first time since Oct. 29 ... Weird Oilers stat: Edmonton went into Thusday’s game boasting a 13-11-1 record against the 16 teams currently in playoff positions but a 4-13-3 mark against the non-playoff clubs.
YOU DON’T SAY
“They can wear wigs and sunglasses. I don’t care, as long as they’re ready.”
— Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter on helmets in warmups