Leafs coach believes concussions can't be ruled out

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:20 PM ET

TORONTO - As a former player, Ron Wilson is well aware of the hockey player’s mentality when it comes to dealing with concussions.

But despite all the uproar over head shots in the game today, the Leafs coach believes much of the perceived crisis is overblown.

“In my case, I was afraid if I said I didn’t feel right I was going to be sent right back to Dallas or Moncton,” Wilson said of the threat NHLers faced of being sent to the minors if they showed signs of weakness. “So you didn’t say anything. Today we encourage the players to come forward.”

That said, Wilson is all for progression in diagnosing and treatment of concussions and limiting their affect on the game. But like his general manager, Brian Burke, Wilson is adamant that concussions cannot be ruled out of a game where physical contact is part of the play.

“You don’t have to hit your head to get a concussion,” Wilson said. “I still personally think that the (Sidney Crosby concussion) was inadvertent contact. It was a total accident. How are you going to rule out accidents in our game?

“We can ban fighting, but there’s still going to be fighting in the game. It happens in college hockey. There’s no fighting allowed but there are fights. You just get kicked out of the game.”

Wilson certainly was irked earlier this season when there was outrage that Mikhail Grabovski remained in the game after being dazed following a hit in Buffalo. Grabovski missed a shift or two then returned to score the winning goal.

Under the new NHL protocol surrounding concussions, Grabovski likely would not have returned. And what will happen when a goaltender takes a puck to the head late in a close game?

“We’ll have to see what the protocol is, it’s a lot more complicated than you think,” Wilson said. “What do you do when a player is a foreigner and speaks broken English and you don’t know what he’s talking about?”

Burke was also upset at the reaction to the Grabovski play, especially with suggestions that the Leafs put one of their star players in danger.

“Look at Colton Orr with us,” Wilson said. “We haven’t played him since he showed signs of concussion (following a fight against Anaheim Ducks heavyweight George Parros on Jan. 20.) He’s perfectly normal now, but we’re holding him back and you’re seeing that happen on a lot of teams.”


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