We are less than a week into the playoffs and it seems the main story line of the playoffs so far has been head shots and general player safety whether it was the Shea Weber non-suspension or the number of dangerous hits and other ‘goonery’ that took place last night and it probably all started with the hit and concussion suffered by Daniel Sedin a couple weeks ago.
For me, I find the whole player safety debate interesting because it seems the most silent group in the debate is the players. There is a lot of media outrage against head hits and other dangerous events and even some fan outrage (though less significant than the media portrays) but player outrage doesn’t seem to exist. The players are the ones at risk here, not the media or the fans, and it is my opinion that until the players feel outraged by the lack of player safety should I really care?
Many players are highly intelligent with college or university degrees (or intelligent without degrees, you don’t need a degree to be intelligent). Players are paid a lot of money, they have a players union and can hire highly intelligent agents and union representatives to fight for their rights. As of yet I haven’t seen any indication from the players that player safety is nearly as important a concern for them as it is for much of the media. In the next couple months the players and the owners will begin negotiations of a new collective bargaining agreement. One of the main reasons why unions formed was to demand better work place safety in factories. If the players don’t take this new CBA negotiation opportunity to raise player safety concerns why should I as a fan care one iota about player safety. I am willing to be proven wrong, but I suspect money and player freedom (free agency) will remain the #1 issue for players and player safety will hardly get discussed.
Note: I want to mention that this only applies to professional hockey dealing with adults, often very well paid adults. Kids hockey and junior hockey players need to be protected by external groups because they are less fit to do so themselves.