…and his words hold some merit, probably because his parents had nothing to do with it.
In an interview with the Toronto Sun, the former Philadelphia Flyer and soon-to-be inductee into the London Sports Hall of Fame (…congratuations?) said that he believes rule changes in the NHL have led to a higher rate of concussions.
Lindros could be considered an authority on the topic. Once anointed "The Next One", he suffered four concussions during his NHL career. The most infamous of those was the shot he took from Scott Stevens in game seven of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals, which you can view… right here.
Was that really 11 years ago? Jesus.
"They did away with the red line (for the two-line offside pass), so the rate of speed through the neutral zone is much higher. Defencemen can't help their partners by slowing opponents down between the blue line and the top of the circle and goalies can't play the puck behind the goal line outside that (trapezoid) area.
"Would Raffi Torres have been coming through the neutral zone as fast as he was otherwise?" he added of the Vancouver forward's hit on Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks during their first-round playoff series, which earned Torres an interference penalty, but no suspension. "Everyone's being so reactive right now, but the problem's actually been there for a long time. I think there are some strides being made, though."
Lindros is basically saying that the much faster speed of today's game makes the hits and checks even more dangerous. (If you didn't click on the link for the Raffi Torres hit directly above, you need to. It's a great illustration of his point.)
The elimination of the two-line pass call and the goalie's inability to be effective outside of the trapezoid area forces more movement on both sides of the ice, especially by the end boards. You notice that the Stevens hit on Lindros was similar to the Torres hit on Seabrook, except where the incident took place. The Stevens hit took place in the neutral zone in open ice, but now players can get that room pretty deep as well.
You may or may not be a Lindros fan based on how things ended with his tenure in Philly, but he makes a lot of sense here, and it is pretty odd that the concussion issue in the NHL is just now getting this much attention. Between watching Lindros and guys like Simon Gagne, Flyers fans have been quite aware of it for some time.
And hey, if you don't like Lindros, maybe this will warm you up to him a bit. He responded when asked about "blatant elbow-to-the-head artists, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins' Matt Cooke".
"You know what the unfortunate part is? When the time comes for him to be a free agent, some general manager will sign him and pay him more than someone who kills penalties or plays on the power play because of his — I can't really find another word for it — trashy style of play."
Heh. Fuckin' Penguins.
The point of all this is the quicker speed of this game is naturally going to increase injuries, especiallty those resulting from big hits and checks. But there is more scoring in the NHL with the rule changes last decade and that's always going to be sexier to the viewer. So, I expect little to change.
Personally, I enjoyed the days when a 3-on-2 rush actually meant something. But it's a hard game not to love, either way. The hockey fan knows what I'm talking about.
And the non-hockey fans may know soon, too… because there won't be and NFL or NBA to watch next year.
…baseball and hockey, folks. Baseball and hockey.