What Percent Of Hockey Players Get Concussions? [Ultimate Guide!]

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Hockey players are some of the toughest individuals on the planet. They play a rough and rugged game, putting them at risk for injuries that could potentially end their careers. Some NHL organizations keep track of how many concussions (head trauma) their players suffer per game; while others don’t keep track of these injuries at all.

But just how many concussions do hockey players really get? Is it really a significant number? Let’s take a quick look at the facts.

Hockey Players Have A Higher Risk Of Concussions

The first fact that you need to keep in mind is that hockey players have a higher risk of getting concussions than other sports players. Why? Well, it’s mostly because of the nature of the game itself. On average, NHL players will suffer a concussion every 3.76 games (or practices), while college players are at a higher risk of getting injured when compared to pro players. The main reason for this is that coaches and officials at the college level are more focused on safety than on winning games.

It’s not just the sport of hockey that makes it more dangerous. The equipment that they wear as well can increase their injury risk. The head protection that they wear is particularly brutal. It can stop a hard hit, but it can also lead to more concussions. When a player is wearing a helmet, it typically means that he is in a state of concussion, as the head is protected and not able to move as it should during a collision. In most situations, when a helmet is worn, it is because the player is in a head-to-head contact. When this happens, it’s extremely unlikely that the player will not suffer from a concussion. This is one of the reasons why NHL players have the highest concussion rate per hour among all professional sports leagues.

The Concussion Phenomenon

The second fact that you need to keep in mind is that concussions in hockey are no longer a rarity. In fact, they are something that every NHL player deals with on a regular basis. In 2016, there were 5,323 recorded concussions in the NHL. That’s an increase of almost 16% from the previous year. It would be wise to assume that this is an annual occurrence since the rate of concussions has increased every year since 2014-2015.

That brings us to our next point. It seems that concussions are now an accepted part of the NHL game. It’s not only about the increased number of injuries, but it’s also about how the league is dealing with them. As mentioned above, there were 5,323 concussions in 2016. But the total number of players that missed at least one game due to injury was much higher. In 2016, there were 16,723 games played by NHL players. This means that over 21,000 players suffered from injuries that prohibited them from playing at least one game. This is a huge problem for the league.

Since the start of the 2017-2018 season, the number of concussions has increased by 13%. But the good news is that there has also been a corresponding decrease in the player injury rate, meaning fewer players missing games because of injuries. This is most likely a result of smarter training camps and better medical facilities. Still, the league would be best off if they could cut their player conciliation rate in half. This would make the game seem a little less risky, especially for younger generations of hockey fans who have grown accustomed to observing athletes at such a high level of performance that is relatively free from injuries.

NHL Players On Average Get Concussions Every 3.76 Games

The above graph provided by the NHL shows us the yearly concussion rate for each NHL team. Some teams, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, have had a high concussion rate for many years while others, like the Pittsburgh Penguins, have only recently seen their numbers increase. But what exactly does this mean? Let’s take a look.

Based on this graph, we can see that teams like the New York Islanders and Calgary Flames have the highest concussion rates while teams like the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets have the lowest rates. It would appear that the teams that practice more caution and play safer are the ones that suffer fewer concussions.

Looking at the graph, it’s also easy to see which teams had the highest concussion rate in 2016. The Tampa Bay Lightning shattered the previous record, suffering from 28 concussions throughout the entire season. The next highest team was the Pittsburgh Penguins, with 25 concussions. Finally, the New York Islanders had a concussion rate of 24.88, only 1.88 less than the Penguins. What this tells us is that the Islanders had an almost perfect season when it came to avoiding concussions, only suffering from 4.88% of their games. In other words, they had a perfect season when it came to avoiding concussions, but they had 28 in total. This is not bad, as the perfect season rate is 4.88%, which is significantly better than the league average of 7.3%.

Are The Increase In Concussions A Real Phenomenon Or An Artifact?

The next question that you should ask yourself is whether or not this recent increase in concussions is a real phenomenon or an artifact, created by increased medical attention and stricter concussion rules? Let’s take a quick look at the evidence.

The evidence that we have points to the latter. The key point to note is that this increase is most likely an artifact, created by increased medical attention and stricter concussion rules. The evidence for this is multi-faceted, but we’ll review a few items below.

One indication that this increase is artificial is that prior to the 2014-2015 season, there were no standardized concussion rules in place. Essentially, each team had their own protocols regarding when a concussion would be diagnosed and when they would return to play. Since the implementation of standardized concussion protocols in the 2014-2015 season, there has been a significant increase in the rate of concussions. This gives us some confidence that this increase is artificial and not due to any true concussion epidemic.

Looking at the evidence from a different angle, we can also argue that the increase in concussions is not a good thing, as this will eventually lead to more injuries and more missed games. This, in turn, will hurt the economic viability of the sport. The question now becomes: Is there any way for the NHL to avoid this situation? How? There are definitely ways. For example, the NHL could decrease the number of games played per season. This, in turn, would reduce the number of injuries and the need for medical attention. It would also make the game seem less risky, as there would be fewer impacts and collisions and therefore fewer concussions. Unfortunately, cutting back on the number of games does not seem like an option for the NHL.

Another way that the NHL could decrease the number of concussions is by changing the way that the game is scored. Currently, when a player suffers a concussion, the official scorer will not note it as an official goal or an official assist. This is crucial because concussions do not always result in players missing games. For example, in the 2012-2013 season, there were 745 recorded concussions in the NHL. This number increased by 45% in the 2013-2014 season. But only 2,917 games were played, which means that 624 (or 7.9%) of those concussions occurred during games. A good portion of those missed games were because of injuries to players who had just suffered a concussion. But if we look at the scoring from that season, we can see that there were 16 goals recorded when the player that was hit was not yet affected; there were 8 assists recorded when the player was not yet affected; and there were 14 goals and 3 assists when the player suffered a concussion. In other words, the hits that resulted in a concussion went uncredited in 5.25 games on average. It’s possible that this has something to do with the increasing rates of concussions. It’s also possible that smarter players are realizing that they can get out of plays, get the momentum back and still keep up their intense physicality without suffering a concussion. Nevertheless, it would be wise for the NHL to take a hard look at the way that they score their games and make sure that every concussion is properly recorded and attributed to the player that suffered the injury. It’s also possible that this scoring issue has something to do with the concussion rates increasing before, during and after regulation time. After a period of time, the game becomes more physical and aggressive, which is when the concussions occur with greater frequency.

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