Amid all the unknowns of concussions, Gary Bettman acts like he knows everything

Ken Campbell
Ryan McDonagh  (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Shortly after receiving a letter from Sen. Richard Blumenthal to address “the safety of your sport,” and the possible connection between concussions chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), NHL commissioner Gary Bettman seemed very eager to respond. “Senator Blumenthal doesn’t have his facts straight,” Bettman said at the time, “and we’ll use this as an opportunity to explain to him why he’s so misinformed.”

And in true Bettman fashion, the commissioner did exactly that by sending Blumenthal a 24-page response recently that reiterated in crystal clear language his continued denial of a link between concussions and CTE. And again in true Bettman form, he got directly to the heart of the matter. In fact, the second sentence basically sums up the tone of the entire letter. It reads: “We very much appreciate this opportunity to share with you important information on these topics, particularly because we are concerned that some of your questions in your letter appear to be premised on misconceptions that have been repeatedly promoted in the media by the plaintiffs’ counsel who are presently pursuing concussion-related litigation against the NHL.”

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Jamie Benn could miss World Cup after surgery to repair ‘core muscle injury’

Jared Clinton
Jamie Benn (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Team Canada may be the early favorite to win the World Cup of Hockey, but the Canadian squad may be facing a massive loss before the puck even drops to start the tournament.

The Dallas Stars announced Friday that Jamie Benn, 26, has been forced to go under the knife to repair a “core muscle injury.” The surgery, which took place Thursday in Philadelphia, comes with a six-week recovery period. That’s good news for the Stars, as they will almost assuredly have their captain and all-star left winger back in the lineup to start the campaign, but it might mean Benn isn’t ready to go in time for the World Cup.

“Jamie will be re-evaluated after the six-week rehabilitation process,” the Stars said in a release. “At which time, his availability for the World Cup of Hockey will be determined.” Read more

Bettman awfully selective about his ‘facts’ when it comes to fighting in NHL

Ken Campbell
Tom Wilson (left) and Kyle Clifford  (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

As long as the NHL faces a concussion lawsuit from former players, you can expect NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to get his back up about the issue of fighting. And if that means he has to go to the same age-old clichés about its place in the game and provide nebulous information, so be it.

That was the case when Bettman was asked about it in an interview with an online broadcast of Sports Illustrated Now. Bettman was responding to questions about a letter he received from Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who accused the league of appearing, “dismissive about the link between head trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the game of hockey.” Blumenthal, who is a member of a Senate subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, posed nine questions to Bettman about how the league handles concussions and whether he believes there is a link between CTE and hockey. Blumenthal asked for a response by July 23 and Bettman complied.

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Five players who could replace Ryan Callahan on USA’s World Cup roster

Jared Clinton
Phil Kessel (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

The American roster is going to need an adjustment before September’s World Cup after it was announced Tuesday that Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ryan Callahan will be forced to miss the tournament.

Callahan, 31, underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a labral tear in his right hip, and the expected recovery time for the surgery is five months, meaning Callahan isn’t expected to return to action until November, at the earliest. In all likelihood, the veteran winger could be out until at least December and maybe longer depending on what type of time is needed to get him back up to game speed before his return. All that is to say that not only have the Lightning lost a piece of their roster, but so has USA’s World Cup squad.

Luckily, there are still months to go before the tournament, and it’s not as if USA was at the bottom of the barrel when they were picking Callahan for their World Cup team. There are a number of players who could replace Callahan on the roster, and here are five of the top candidates: Read more

Penguins’ Sprong sidelined 7-8 months following shoulder surgery

Jared Clinton
Daniel Sprong. (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

The most significant injury — and the one with the longest recovery time — the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to deal with after the post-season appears to be one to a player who didn’t even see the ice in the Stanley Cup final.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Daniel Sprong, who played 18 games with the Penguins this past season, will be out 7-8 months following off-season surgery on his right shoulder. The 19-year-old started the season with the Penguins and earned his way onto the roster out of training camp, but after re-joining the team following his time with the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders the rookie fell injured during practice as one of the Penguins’ ‘Black Aces’ in the post-season.

The 7-8 month timeline for return means it’s unlikely Sprong finds his way onto the NHL roster before the second half of the 2016-17 season and means he could be out until after the all-star break. Read more

Nick Bonino was ‘quarantined’ during Stanley Cup final, almost shut down by Penguins

Jared Clinton
Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins moves the puck against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

The post-season injury lists for the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks will begin filtering out over the next few weeks, but the strangest tale of all may have already been revealed.

During his end of season meeting with media, Penguins center Nick Bonino said that he had to battle through some serious situations during the final two rounds of the post-season. Bonino said that during the Stanley Cup final he was dealing with an infection in his elbow that had him on medication and a fever so high — over 101, according to Bonino — that he had to be kept away from his family.

“They were going to shut me down for the year,” Bonino said. “I was on a ton of antibiotics, getting IVs every day at the hospital. The doctors did a really good job keeping my elbow healthy. I don’t think I practiced the whole (Stanley Cup final). Guys were ripping me for it because I could just play games, didn’t have to practice anymore. I rested up and then we got it done…I was quarantined in the hotel, I wasn’t even living at home. They didn’t want me around the baby.” Read more

Sharks’ Hertl suffered right knee injury in Game 2, but will avoid surgery

Jared Clinton
Tomas Hertl (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Tomas Hertl’s injury became one of the Stanley Cup final’s storylines as the 22-year-old was suddenly out of the lineup come Game 3 and was continuously said to be day-to-day by San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. But with the post-season over, there’s finally some clarity when it comes to Hertl’s injury situation.

It was announced Monday that Hertl sustained an injury to his right knee, which is the same knee that was injured in a knee-on-knee collision with the Los Angeles Kings’ Dustin Brown in December 2013.

The injury in the Stanley Cup final came when Hertl was hit along the left wing boards midway through the third period of Game 2 by Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist. Immediately after he was hit, Hertl left the ice and when the NBCSN cameras showed the Sharks winger on the bench, he was flexing his knee and grimacing in pain: Read more

Leading playoff scorer Couture used to having a profound impact

Ken Campbell
Logan Couture celebrates his second period goal (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SAN JOSE – Perhaps when Logan Couture accused Sidney Crosby of cheating in the faceoff circle, it was a desperate ploy. But, hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. The Pittsburgh Penguins had just won the first two games of the Stanley Cup final and Crosby was eating them alive in the faceoff circle.

Whatever the intent, it’s worked. Prior to Couture’s comments after Crosby won a crucial draw in overtime that led to the game-winner, Crosby had won 26 of 40 faceoffs for a mind-boggling success rate of 65 percent. But in Games 3, 4 and 5, Crosby was a combined 37-44 in the faceoff circle for a success rate of just 45.7 percent.

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