Opening night was rough for the Dallas Stars. Not only due to dropping the home opener against the Boston Bruins 2-1, but a slew of injuries also occurred for the team. Roman Polak went down with a broken sternum after a scary collision, Dickinson suffered an upper-body injury, and Comeau suffered a lower-body injury.
The Stars lost all three players for a period plus, forcing the team to play with only 15 skaters. The overextension of skaters, especially so early in the season, is a serious concern for player safety and health. This brings up a question that has to be asked of the NHL, why is there no protocol for injured players being replaced?
Every other major sport in North America has the ability to substitute players for injury or tactical reasons. Hockey is the only sport that does not provide a way to deal with these problems. This adds extra risk to the remaining players forcing double shifts and an extended amount of ice time. The NHL allows for 23 players on the roster, providing for 3 scratches a night, why can these players not be allowed to come in for an injured player? It is a simple solution to a serious problem.
Notably, the NHL has made a push to ensure player safety yet continually fails to ensure basic steps are taken to actually protect players. Hockey is the most physical sport and if a player is suddenly forced into playing double shifts, their likelihood of injury increases. Just from natural wear and tear from the season in addition to mental fatigue leading to a dangerous hit from an opponent.
Additionally, consider if one of the Stars players was injured but decided to hide it. Electing to continue on despite not being in a condition to do so knowing his team is already short-handed. Hockey players are notorious for being tough guys willing to lay it all on the line for their team, even their health.
It is uncommon for one team to lose 3 players in the course of one game, but it is not unlikely given the nature of the game. Dallas had players put in the way of additional harm when one considers the intensity of the game. The injuries did not cost the Stars the game, the team’s poor first period is to blame for that. The additional wear and tear on the players are so easily avoidable it is negligent and reckless of the NHL to not address this issue.
Dallas thankfully, despite the negligence by the NHL, avoided additional injury to other players. The Stars are deep and have plenty of players ready to go in the AHL, evidenced by Caamano and Gardner’s play thus far. The lack of interest by the NHL to address replacing injured players is an egregious act of the highest order. If a goaltender is injured, there is a replacement ready to go into the game.
There is no justifiable reason for the NHL to continue without making emergency players available. The solution is simple and available, the NHL has to act for the NHLPA will certainly approve it.
Featured Image: Taylor Baird, DefendingBigD, Glenn James/NHL via Getty Images