As president of the President of the CHL and the Commissioner of the OHL David Branch has quite a bit of power. In fact I always think of the Spiderman line from Uncle Ben Parker, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ I have no doubt that the tough decisions that Mr. Branch has had to make in the past several seasons. When I became part of the media I recall David acting quickly to protect his players in making neckguards mandatory. There was no twitter back then so you had to resort to Facebook and texts as a way to get player feedback. I recall facebook going nuts from players calling the OHL a joke. They would make comments like, ‘whats next mandatory cages?’ ‘may as well play NCAA hockey now, there goes our freedom,’ and ‘whats the point of going pro if I have to wear a neckguard’.
Sure these are not the smartest comments to make. But it is the voice of the players that have to follow the new ‘kneejerk’ reactionary rule that came about due to an incident in the NHL. I remember talking to Branch that night via phone call and asked him why the rule was implemented without a vote or without further discussion. His response was simply (and I’m paraphrasing… it was 5 years ago) my job is to protect the players in this league. These 16-20 year old kids, their parents are entrusting me with their safety and it was necessary to protect players from such an incident. Maybe the next person wouldn’t have been as lucky as the player in Florida.
Fast forward to just a few days ago when it was made official that the OHL would be ‘experimenting’ with a soft cap shoulder pad to help reduce head injuries and prevent possible concussions. Will it help at all in curbing the amount of concussions in the OHL? Last year I believe every show featured an update on a players condition who received a concussion. Through the years I have amassed quite a rolodex of contacts. I figured I would get their input on the matter. Below is everyone who decided to respond back to my question that I sent out. That question was…
From current players, to media, to alumni players. It really appears to be a split decision. Will the soft cap shoulder pads help? Time and statistics will ultimately determine if this experiment will be successful or a failure. But now I have to ask. What do you think about switching to these soft cap shoulder pads? Do you think they will help reduce head injuries?
Leave your comments below, or tweet me (@intheoradio)