Turning Out The Lights: Concussions, Spectacle and the NHL
By: David Gowdey
Length: 265 pages
Release date: Oct 1, 2013
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In the last complete season, 2011-12, NHL players lost 1,697 games due to concussion injuries. Between October and December 2011 more than 35 players were knocked out of action by head injuries, many for extended periods. Besides Sidney Crosby, the top player in the world, they included Claude Giroux, who had been leading the league in points at the time of his injury, Milan Michalek, who had been leading in goals, two top rookies, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, Jeff Skinner, the previous season's top rookie, superstar defensemen Shea Weber and Chris Pronger, and goalies Ryan Miller and Chris Mason. By the end of that year at least 88 players had suffered concussions. Soon after the 2013 season began the parade continued. Ten players were concussed in 12 days in February 2013, including Evgeni Malkin, Rick Nash and star rookies Brendan Gallagher and Vladimir Tarasenko.
In 1998, after Steve Bocking suffered his second concussion in two years playing hockey, his father Dr. Ken Bocking began a campaign to bring the concussions crisis to light. In 2011 he succeeded in his goal when Hockey Canada banned head shots across the country. But the NHL refuses to take effective action against dangerous hits. Despite small steps forward in recent years its rulebook remains incoherent, enforcement on the ice is erratic and suspensions by the league are minimal, even for repeat offenders.
Today doctors across the United States and Canada are calling for a change in the culture of hockey. TURNING OUT THE LIGHTS tells Dr. Bocking's story, discusses the concussions issue from all sides and offers safety guidelines for players, parents and coaches. It also takes a close look at recent developments. The NHL claims to be defending the fabric of the game, while at the same time ignoring some of hockey's most established traditions. Although the league has always been dangerous the author shows convincingly that the game took a radical new direction in the 1990's. Many smaller and lighter players have been driven out, and it's debatable whether stars like Wayne Gretzky or Doug Gilmour could have excelled under today's rules. Thoroughly researched and packed with surprising information, the book provides plenty of fuel for discussion and encourages different points of view to find common ground.