Covering up injuries does fans no good

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET

As ridiculous as the way the injuries keep piling up in the Calgary Flames locker-room is the way the organization deals with them.

And it's not just the Flames. It's a league-wide issue that often has fans and media members wringing their hands, or just throwing them up in frustration.

The Flames just happen to be one of the clubs that seem to specialize in the gag order.

No one is asking for the exact bone that people are speculating may be broken in Cory Sarich's foot.

Or the grade of the knee sprain rumoured to be suffered by Robyn Regehr.

Not even the exact quadrant of Dion Phaneuf or Curtis Glencross' mystery ailments.

It's playoff time -- we get that.

It's even easy to feel sorry for the Flames with their nine bodies on the mend.

Nobody wants to see them targeted if they return a little early.

We just want to know what the chances of a return might be.

A simple upper- or lower-body would suffice.

Maybe a general time frame for the ones they've been calling day-to-day for more than a week already.

Changed by the NHL this year to allow teams to be even more vague, the injury policy has helped the league distance itself even further from one it should be modelling itself after -- the National Football League.

Weekly injury reports are one of the reasons fans of the NFL feel so connected. There are few secrets.

Arguing those releases are for gambling purposes only supports the theory the NHL should loosen up a little in that regard.

Who believes the hundreds of thousands of people playing Sport Select wouldn't appreciate knowing the chances of a teams star winger suiting up before they make their bet?

Whether it's two bucks or $20 they're putting on the line.

Avoiding lies is the only guideline the NHL has given its franchises when it comes to wounds.

So they don't say anything at all.

Lying is almost preferable. There's entertainment value in discovering Joe Hockey's announced elbow injury was actually a sprained ankle.

There's nothing fun about the way things are handled right now.

Just look at the aggravation the Flames are feeling at the moment.

Sick of hearing members of the media ask when their walking wounded will be returning, they've now adopted the "We are no longer talking about injuries" approach.

That's the answer given more than once yesterday when those wondering whether Phaneuf would be returning for the playoffs had the nerve to actually ask the question.

Same thing happened when a request was made for winger Rene Bourque, who skated yesterday morning and seems to be close to a return from a high ankle sprain that has kept him out of the lineup since Feb. 19.

He looks close, but what would media members know?

Nobody tells them anything.

Popping out of one of the many doors in the Flames' inner-sanctum yesterday, Bourque was so intimidated by the massive number of writers and TV crews desperate for player comments, he recoiled back into the safe zone after a quick double-take.

Following the lockout that nearly ended any credibility the NHL had south of the border, a plan to be more accessible was put forward.

It's taking steps backward in that department.

Talk about adding insult to injury.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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