Thursday, November 21, 2013

Concussion alters Rick Nash’s perspective on NHL 'headshots'

Rick Nash claims his whole outlook at hockey changed after Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart delivered the concussion-inducing headshot (video below) in San Jose on Oct. 8 that sidelined him for six weeks and 17 games.

The Rangers winger claims he wasn't expecting flowers, or anything from Hallmark for that matter, but Nash told the N.Y. Post he would have handled the situation differently if was on the other end of the play.

“Maybe he didn’t think it was so bad, I don’t know; not getting a call or text isn’t anything I’ve thought about,” said the Rangers’ winger, who returned to the lineup for Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Bruins. “I don’t think he was obligated.

“But for me, I would somehow have reached out to the guy under a similar circumstance. I don’t ever want to be in that spot or put anyone in that situation, but if so, I would do that.“We’re all in this together.”

The 29-year-old Nash said the comparatively lengthy recovery process attached to what was his second concussion in eight months has altered his perspective.

“I’ve come to realize that with all this stuff going on, I’m going to have more than half of my life to live after I retire,” he said. “There’s a lot to life after hockey.

“Headshots are a serious problem in the game. You see them all the time,” said Nash, whose team will play in Dallas on Thursday to open a five-game trip including stops in Nashville, Tampa Bay, Florida and Boston. “You watch the highlights and it seems like there’s a headshot every night.

“Something has to change.”

Stuart was suspended for three games for the questionable hit. And Nash agrees. But he won't put the onus of safety entirely on VP Brendan Shanahan, the Department of Player Safety or the NHL. The burden, Nash believes, is on the players to change their behavior.

“As a union, all the players are in it together,” Nash said. “I understand how it happens, the game is so fast, things happen quickly, and I know that I’ve had some hits that have been close calls, but we all have to take responsibility for changing some of the things we do out there.

“I understand that we don’t want to have huge suspensions for plays that are spontaneous and I’m OK with that, but the players as a group and the union have to take more responsibility for stopping these kinds of hits,” he said. “It’s up to the guys to have more respect for each other and our careers.”

Nash, who played just under 18 minutes  in his return, said he is playing with a clear mind; unafraid and unencumbered by doubt regarding his well-being on the ice.

“I’m confident. I know we covered every angle,” he said. “The organization made sure that I was checked by specialists, got all the time I needed and all the answers I was looking for.

“A big part of my recovery and me feeling as secure as I do is because the organization was so supportive. I couldn’t ask for more.”

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