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Quick Hits: The Head Injuries (and Athanasiou) are Important Edition

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NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Story

Inflammation in the brain linked to CTE | By Nadia Kounang, CNN

My first story for WiiM, before I was even a member of the team, was about hits to the head and how the league wasn’t doing enough. Suffice it to say, this is a topic close to me.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has denied a link between concussions and CTE. If you forget, here you go.

Considering how much NHL fans love Bettman, as seen by the reception he receives at every Stanley Cup presentation, you should be interested to hear that his assumption is not holding up.

The article is referring to NFL players, but this passage is interesting:

The researchers compared the brains of 48 former football players diagnosed with CTE with the brains of 18 players who didn't have the disease and those of 16 non-players. They found that those who had increased hits to the head, even though they hadn't been diagnosed with CTE, had increased inflammation. That inflammation increased with a longer time playing football and with CTE severity.

This is a major issue, and it’s good to see more research that will hopefully lead to more prevention.

In Detroit Land

Detroit Red Wings seek comfort in home games (plus injury updates) | by Helene St. James , Detroit Free Press

A couple interesting tidbits in here. First of all, Vanek is apparently 2-3 weeks out, and we are totally cool with continuing to only carry 12 healthy forwards.

Also:

The lineup could gain a forward soon, as Tomas Jurco should be cleared for contact practices next week.

Kronwall update:

On the back end, Holland said that Niklas Kronwall is “feeling good and is not far away,” but cautioned that it remains a matter of pain management as Kronwall attempts to play with a permanently bad left knee.

“Permanently bad knee.” That sounds as bad to you as it does to me, right? “Yes, your car is ready to drive, but I must warn you about the permanently bad left front tire.” Sweet. I feel safe and secure.

But the real reason I chose this article is because I needed to vent about this section:

Eye on Athanasiou: Following Wednesday’s game, coach Jeff Blashill said he needs better consistency from Andreas Athanasiou. “His first half was really good. I didn’t like the second part of the second period. He’s got to make sure he plays complete for the whole time. He’s got to make sure he’s on it. He wasn't winning as many battles, he wasn't as engaged, skatingwise, and he wasn't on the puck.”

On a team that has its captain scoring his first goal of the season and other veterans not contributing a tenth of what Athanasiou has so far, this is maddening to read. Especially with all the excuses Blashill has made for players like Sheahan, Abdelkader, etc, this is ridiculous.

I’ve tried to give Blashill the benefit of the doubt, but the Philly game shows that I have likely been too lenient in that regard. Andreas Athanasiou has proven that he deserves to play a major role this season. Stop using him as a scapegoat, especially when you put out the “worst line in hockey (tm)” out during the last five minutes of a game with a one goal lead.

As one of my favorite actresses from one of my favorite shows would say: