Friday, 15 June 2012

Robison Remains Confident in 7-Point Plan

Ron Robison
The commissioner of the Western Hockey League says he's not surprised there was a rise in concussions in the WHL during the 2011-2012 season.

The WHL stated in a release earlier this week that there was a slight increase in concussions but they remain confident that the seven-point plan introduced a year ago will assist in reducing concussions in the future.

"We anticipated that the numbers could increase this year because of the heightened awareness around the league at every level...from our doctors to our trainers to the players themselves being more conscious of it," said Robison on Friday, "We are very confident that the seven-point plan that the competition committee has put into place is a solid plan, is very comprehensive and addresses all of the areas."

Just to review, the seven-point plan (which now has just six points, if you go by the WHL release earlier this week) includes:

- continued emphasis on discipline as it applies to repeat offenders
- production of an education video on player safety
- seminar for all General Managers and Head Coaches on September 11, 2012
- continuing to provide players with best available protective equipment
- working with the WHL Arena Advisory Committee to adopt acrylic glass as a standard for all WHL arenas
- continuing to collect and study research data on concussion injuries and their causes (new in 2012)

Note: Adoption of new playing rules and new soft cap elbow and shoulder pads are two areas missing from the original plan announced in June, 2011, for the obvious reason that both were implemented during the 2011-2012 season.

Robison admits that some of the areas are in a work in progress, particularly moving toward acrylic glass as a standard in WHL arenas.

He says one of the major contributing factors to concussions is head contact with the glass and the boards.

"The NHL adopted the acrylic glass system and, based on their research, it reduces injuries by 2 1/2 times," said Robison, "We're working with our arena advisory committee and all of our arenas to see what we can do in this area. Obviously, it's a major capital expense but it's something that will have to be addressed by all arenas but we feel strongly we need to move in that direction as soon as possible."

The continuation of the Conference playoff format was the only other major announcement to come out of the WHL's AGM this week but there could be some further announcements later this month.

Robison admits there was some discussion about rule changes but they want to talk about those changes at the CHL and NHL level in the next couple of week before making an announcement.

Getting rid of the trapazoid area behind the net, which the QMJHL did earlier this month, is one of those rules that is up for discussion though the WHL is expected to follow the NHL's lead on that.

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