As all hockey fans know concussions have been the main topic of discussion this season. Things got so bad that corporate sponsors such as Air Canada and Via Rail - business heavyweights in Canada - have spoken out and demanded change.
I still haven't quite figured out Air Canada's and Via Rail's motive. Are they really that concerned about the health and safety of million dollar hockey players? Or are they just looking to capitalize on the growing movement in Canada for safety in hockey at every level?
I think it is more the latter. It's not a bad business move - get lots of free ink and good will. While I commend them for flexing their muscle to press the issue, the bottom line is they stop short of actually doing something about it.
Enter Scotiabank and Reebok CCM Hockey who have partnered with ThinkFirst Canada. They have sponsored a new training video called ThinkFirst Smart Hockey.
"The ThinkFirst Smart Hockey video encourages 'respect' as a team-building attitude that can also help us to avoid injury. This video features John Tavares, Tessa Bonhomme, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Myers and Caroline Ouellette. ThinkFirst's hockey video has info on concussion, protecting your brain and spinal cord, as well as and return-to-play after you have recovered from concussion symptoms. This video has been endorsed by the NHL, NHLPA, the IIHF and Hockey Canada."
You can read more of the official press release here. You can view trailers and other video coverage at Scotia Hockey Club's Facebook page.
This video needs to be in the hands of every minor hockey association in the country. Every minor hockey coach should watch it, and really so should every player. Hockey is a very dangerous game, and we need to make it a safer game starting right from the grass roots. Sure, it will take a generation of players to complete such a change, but it is for the best.
Air Canada and Via Rail can rattle chains and make headlines. But companies like Scotiabank, Reebook CCM Hockey and ThinkFirst are actually out there doing something about.
Note: The Scotia Hockey Club is providing me with 2 copies of the Smart Hockey DVD. I will be deciding what to do with the DVDs - I may have a reader contest or I may donate them to minor hockey.
Note 2: Hockey fans, especially in Montreal and Vancouver, need to be sure to follow the Scotia Hockey Club on Twitter - @ScotiaHockey - I've been told they are finalizing plans for playoff ticket giveaways and will be using Twitter heavily in the promotion.
That's all great, but all that information is offset by the hours and hours of NHL games kids watch. That is where they learn. That is who they emulate and look up to. Kids see Matt Cook and figure it must be okay.
It's not enough and I think Air Canada and Via know it.
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