Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Snowden Waived, Lavoie Rookie of the Month & Helmet Safety

- I am sure many of you have heard by now that the Allen Americans waived forward John Snowden yesterday.  Can't say this was a surprise as coach Martinson made it clear recently that he needed to get more scoring out of the veteran group on the second scoring line. John is a class act and if you recall last year he got off to a slow start in Rapid City and then played with Ft. Worth and went on a scoring tear. Sometimes chemistry just doesn't work on a line and it has nothing to do with talent or hard work.  He will get picked up by another team and get things back on track. Best of luck to John, Janelle and family.

- The accolades keep coming for Allen rookie Alex Lavoie. The latest is being named the CHL rookie of the month for October. Here is the news release from the CHL.
The Central Hockey League announced today that Allen Americans forward Alex Lavoie has been named the recipient of the Central Hockey League Rookie of the Month for October/2013. 
Lavoie is tied for fourth in the CHL with 11 points on the season.  He has scored four goals with seven assists and has his team in first place with a 7-1-1 record (15 points).
After being shutout in the team’s opening game of the season, the Anjou, Quebec native recorded points in every other October game including having back-to-back game winning goals on October 25th and 26th.  For the month, Lavoie had three goals and five assists.
Lavoie is in his first professional season after a successful five year career in the Quebec Major Junior League.

CHL Rookie of the Month
Alex Lavoie, Allen Americans
(October Totals)
Games – 6
Points- 8
Goals- 3
Assists- 5
GWG’s- 2

- I came across the article below which I found at prohockeynews.com written by Lou Lafrado on hockey helmet safety. The article is interesting not only because it is dealing with finding a safer hockey helmet but also the fact that it is a father and son working on this project and it started as an entry in the son's school science fair.

Ottawa pair redesign protective components of hockey helmet Foam insert reduces G-forces from hit to head

OTTAWA, Ont, Canada – Concussions have been brought to the fore front this hockey season by a string of head shots and boarding penalties in the National Hockey League. Through Sunday night’s games there have been a total of eight official penalties resulting in suspensions with one hearing scheduled for John Scott of the Buffalo Sabres for October 29. In one match Sunday night, Brandon Dubinsky was called for an interference penalty and game misconduct for a high hit on Saku Koivu of the Anaheim Ducks.
Pro Hockey News has been working on concussion story lines for several years and recently published an article on the impact of the repeated concussions on the brain. This article features the work of a father and son team in Ottawa who have working to better protect the brain of professional athletes through improved helmet design.
Their tagline is “Turns out “good enough” isn’t really good enough. For too long we have permitted athletes to play their sport with proactive gear that has been “good enough” for the time.
Rodney McInnis is theBetter Helmets logo founder of BetterHelmets.com in Ottawa. He and his son, Daniel, have conceived an improved design and helmet composition that address linear impacts and the specific need of reduction in torsion in a collision.
Collisions in hockey occur either on checks or when a player’s head makes contact with a hard surface like the ice or dasher boards.
“The real damage is done with rotation of the head,” McInnis says. “We need a design that will limit that physical reaction to the collision.”
McInnis and his son have been researching helmet design for several years now and have seen high density memory foam as the means to an end in concussion reduction.
“We have looked at professional football helmets as well as hockey helmets for a comparison on how each sport tries to protect its players,” McInnis said.
“Football helmets have been designed to be refurbished while hockey helmets are basically disposable,” he said. “There is high density foam protecting from impact damage.”Image6
The high density foam in most helmets undergoes out-gassing making the foam harder and thus reduces its effectiveness in protecting the player’s brain from concussive forces.
“My son (Daniel) was interested in this a couple of years ago so we took his interest to the level of a science fair experiment here,” McInnis described. “His experiments were with a standard helmet and one with a redesigned foam insert.Image8
“What he found was a significant reduction in the amount of G-force exerted on the system with the redesigned foam insert.”
The elder McInnis is a scientist by training and that experience has been beneficial to the project from Daniel’s science fair project to the creation of a nascent company in Ontario.
The entire effort is also somewhat personal for the pair as Daniel, prior to age 15, had suffered two hockey-related concussions.
Necessity being the mother of invention the McInnis pair enhanced their system of placing a second layer of foam inside the test helmet for the experiment. That second foam was a thick layer of memory foam material.
Those first experiments demonstrated that the new design could reduce G-forces on the system from 153 G in a standard hockey helmet to 30 G total with the new foam insert.
A Canadian patent was issued to the McInnis’ helmet design in January of this year.
“We are just at the beginning of this effort,” the elder McInnis said. “But we have a clear idea of how we need to proceed to protect players and their brains from concussions.
“We believe our foam insert goes beyond the incremental improvements in helmet technology,” McInnis said, “This new design will help reduce linear and rotational forces leading to concussions.”
The acceleration of forces to the head can be seen in any number of videos of recent head shots in the NHL this season. The extension of the player throwing the hit can be seen resulting in the linear and rotational reaction of the head of the player receiving the hit.
The McInnis team sees their helmet redesign as reducing at least some of the forces that cause concussions. Of course, they have no way to prevent the collision but the consequences of a direct hit to the head can be ameliorated with this new design.
“There are millions of athletes who need a new helmet design,” McInnis says.
Hard to argue with that statement or their efforts in Ottawa.

DID YOU KNOW: Helmets were not made mandatory in the NHL until August of 1979 and current players were grandfathered in to go without helmets. Craig MacTavish was the last player to go without a helmet and he played his last game in 1996-1997. By the time the NHL made wearing helmets mandatory 70% of players were already wearing them. The big change in the perception of wearing helmets happened in a game I attended in which Minnesota North Star player Bill Masterton was killed. On January 13, 1968 in a game between the Minnesota North Stars and Oakland Seals, two Seals' players, Larry Cahan and Ron Harris, hit Masterton, sending him flying. Masterton's head hit the ice hard. With blood running from his nose and ears, he was rushed to the hospital. Four doctors worked for 30 hours to try to save him, but were unsuccessful as he died of "massive brain injury". Eleven years later, the NHL mandated the use of helmets.

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