On Brayden Schenn and concussions

Photo by Amy Irvin

Flyers forward Brayden Schenn took a tremendous hit from the Capitals’ Tom Wilson in a recent game that knocked Schenn out of the game and resulted in Wilson being booted. Wilson launched himself into Schenn like a missile. If there wasn’t intent to injure on that hit, you could have fooled me.


It came out yesterday that Schenn is feeling pretty well, other than a stiff neck. Sure, no big deal. He’s going to play in tonight’s game against the Blue Jackets! Flyers doctors said he was good to go without a baseline concussion test. No harm, no foul, right? Except that concussions aren’t that simple. The symptoms can be delayed a few days.


I’m sure that the Flyers have some very good doctors that aren’t at all like Springfield’s Dr. Nick Riviera. But there is no reason to not have Schenn undergo the basic concussion test. There is no reason to rush him back. They need to be sure that he’s not suffering from a concussion. Look at Schenn after that hit. He starts to skate away, and then collapses to the ice. He doesn’t remember the hit. This sure looks like a man who was just concussed.


Brayden Schenn, like any hockey player, wants to get right back out there on the ice and help the team. He doesn’t want to admit a major injury. He doesn’t want to take a seat. Many players in his situation have covered up concussions just so that they could stay in the lineup.


Remember Marc-Andre Bourdon? He had a promising career back in 2012. He was a call-up from the Phantoms who ended up sticking with the team. He also covered up a concussion that he incurred in February of 2012 to make sure that he stayed with the team. How is Bourdon doing today? He suffered another concussion at the end of the previous season and was still enduring symptoms as recently as September.


Why would a promising young player like Schenn want to jeopardize his health by playing through something like a concussion? That seems absolutely insane to most people. Schenn sure does have a lot of pressure on him right now. Much was made of his 11-game goalless streak before the game. The streak bugged Brayden so much that stories were written about how he confided in his brother, Luke, about the situation.


Around the same time as Bourdon’s first NHL concussion, James van Riemsdyk suffered one as well. People actually had the gall to insinuate that van Riemsdyk was faking his injury, or at least milking it, to avoid being traded. Guess whose name has started to pop up in trade rumors? Brayden Schenn. These are some dangerous perceptions that these players have to fight through. Not only do they have the macho hockey attitude of “play through it, be tough” to deal with, they also have lunatics accusing them of faking some of these injuries to avoid being traded. This is not healthy pressure for anyone to deal with.


When we spoke to Keith Primeau last week on our podcast, he said that it took him six years to get over his major concussion symptoms. Six years! Chris Pronger is still feeling concussion symptoms. Who can forget how concussions ruined Eric Lindros’ career? This is not okay. This is a serious issue that we can’t use enough caution with.


Maybe Brayden Schenn is fine. I hope he’s fine. I hope I am 100% wrong and people throw this piece in my face for the rest of eternity. I don’t want to see Schenn go through what countless other athletes have already struggled with.


The league knows they need to do better. They’ve said so time and time again. It’s time to act on that.