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October 09, 2000
When experts convened to discuss the state of the NHL, the ideas ranged from a one-game Stanley Cup final to junking the red line to disarming the players
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October 09, 2000

Check It Out

When experts convened to discuss the state of the NHL, the ideas ranged from a one-game Stanley Cup final to junking the red line to disarming the players

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WILSON: Glen, when you played, and when I played, if you had a concussion, chances were you didn't say anything—or you didn't know enough to say anything, or the trainers didn't know that you had a concussion. I remember getting my bell rung playing for the Leafs in Colorado. I don't remember how I got to the bench, and [teammate] Tiger Williams said, "You're not missing a shift, are you? No, you're getting your ass out there the next shift." Now, if you get your bell rung and you stumble to the bench, you've got a doctor, the trainers and half the team telling you not to go out there. That's a good thing.

SHANAHAN: Some guys go into the corner and finish a check at the head every time. Certain players, because of their size, can hit you in the head repeatedly. Every shift, [tall players] are going to finish a check to your face, to your jaw, to your temple, and there's no penalty.

SI: Do certain rinks pose safety problems?

SHANAHAN: Oh, they've got to get rid of the [seamless] glass. I remember in Calgary getting a very innocent hit into the glass, but when my head hit the glass it was like hitting a brick wall. The investment teams make is too huge to not spend the money to get rid of the [seamless] glass. Great idea as far as viewing the game, bad idea as far as keeping players healthy.

SATHER: Don, wouldn't it be better for you to get together with your players and the agents and the players' association and say, "Here are some of the things that we'd really like to fix: We'd like to get the glass changed. We'd like to get the equipment changed, so we can protect players. And we should get together with the NHL rules committee and Gary Bettman." But the problem with that plan is the players' association always says, "If you'll give us $175 a day in meal money, we might consider doing that." There isn't any flexibility because the players' association won't cooperate. Would you agree with that, Don?

MEEHAN: You and I wish the relationship between owners and the players' association was a hell of a lot better.

WILSON: There are no helmet specifications for NHL players, for instance.

SATHER: Remember a few years ago we were trying to get that fixed? Marty McSorley said that he couldn't wear a certain kind of helmet because it would screw up his hair. But that was a negotiating ploy. You know, if you're going to protect the players, both sides have to get together and solve the problems. Brendan said the glass is bad. Let's fix the glass.

SHANAHAN: The league can say and do whatever it wants [about violence], but that all goes out the window unless you've got capable refs. We've got two referees working each game now. Why can't they stop by the dressing rooms before every game and say, "Look, I saw your game last night. Lapointe, you're carrying your elbows too high. We're going to call that. Shanahan, you were hooking. Here's what we're going to call tonight. Here's how we want the game played."

SI: The condition of the ice is a problem in many arenas. The use of some buildings for many events forces the frequent re-laying of ice, while the league's expansion to warm-weather sites makes the surface in those places difficult to maintain. Ron, do you coach with poor ice conditions in mind?

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