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NHL Board of Governors receives data on concussions

Commissioner Gary Bettman says the league is continuing to look for ways to better protect players' heads.

January 29, 2011|By Helene Elliott
  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference Saturday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference Saturday at… (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images )

Reporting from Raleigh, N.C. — Preliminary data presented to the NHL's Board of Governors on Saturday said concussions have increased this season, but Commissioner Gary Bettman said the rise "appears to be in the area of accidental or inadvertent situations" rather than deliberate hits to the head.

The data found a decrease in concussions and man-games lost as the result of hits to the head, which Bettman attributed to the adoption in March of a rule punishing blind-side hits and blows in which the head is the principal point of contact.

The data will be forwarded to general managers for possible follow-up action. Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby sat out the All-Star festivities because of a concussion.

"Of course the ideal number of concussions would be zero, and our objective is to come as close as possible to getting that result without changing the fundamental nature of our game," Bettman said during a news conference in advance of Sunday's All-Star game at the RBC Center.

"But we do want to look for ways to better protect heads and do everything possible to eliminate concussions."

Bettman also said the city of Glendale, Ariz., is working toward selling bonds necessary to complete the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer.

"Time is getting short, make no mistake about that," Bettman said, but he did not set a deadline.

Asked about a lawsuit filed by former Ducks minor leaguer Jason Bailey alleging that he was subjected to anti-Semitic comments by coaches of a team affiliated with the Ducks, Bettman said nothing had been proved. The Ducks' owners, Henry and Susan Samueli, are Jewish, as is Michael Schulman, the club's chief executive.

"I find it hard to believe all our franchises — and particularly that one — would be accused of being anti-Semitic," Bettman said. "My guess is in particular the Samuelis, who own the Ducks, had no idea. … In any lawsuit a plaintiff can allege anything he wants. The issue is whether or not he can prove it."

Bailey's suit in Orange County Superior Court seeks unspecified damages from the Ducks and the ECHL's Bakersfield Condors.

Skills contest

In Saturday's skills contest, Team Staal beat Team Lidstrom, 33-22. Ducks winger Corey Perry outlasted Martin St. Louis to win the final event, the elimination shootout, for Team Staal. But his real triumph came in the first round of that event when he scored on teammate Jonas Hiller. "Low blocker," Perry said. "A different move." Said Hiller: "I told him to do it in a game for once."

Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler hit 93.8 mph in the hardest-shot contest, won by Boston's Zdeno Chara with a record shot of 105.9 mph. "All the guys were saying out of all the competitions that's the one I probably shouldn't have been in, and I ended up doing OK," Fowler said. "Perry was saying he can't really chirp me about it anymore, so I accomplished something."

Anze Kopitar, the Kings' lone representative, concocted some creative moves for Team Lidstrom in the fan-decided breakaway challenge, hit 94.5 mph. in the hardest-shot contest and was stopped in the elimination shootout. "It was fun. I thought there were a lot of good moves out there," he said.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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