The news Tuesday that Flyers forward and current league leader in points Claude Giroux would be out indefinitely due to a concussion was just the latest in a series of blows to both the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL as a whole. But the news that Giroux would be sidelined wasn’t what I found the most interesting part of the NHL.com article (which you can find here). Instead my eyes zeroed in on this quote from Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren.
“Over the past few days, his symptoms have gradually gotten worse. He will be out indefinitely.”
At face value, it’s not a particularly damning quote, is it? However, after examining articles on the same topic from the preceding days, it begins raising questions about Holmgren’s honesty. On Sunday it was…
“Holmgren said Giroux was examined by a doctor and was feeling better.” – Philly.com
“Claude is continuing to feel better,” said Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren. – NHL.com
So it would appear that Holmgren either blatantly lied to the media about Giroux’s condition, or received gross misinformation from someone else in the organization, and my bet isn’t on the latter.
This isn’t the first time Holmgren has given less-then-honest replies regarding the injuries of his players. Team captain Chris Pronger, also sidelined with a concussion, was first rumored to be suffering from a virus, and then a knee injury before it was finally revealed that he was in fact dealing with the symptoms of a concussion.
Both of these instances are possible violations of the NHL’s injury disclosure policy which, according to the New York Times, says,
Clubs may not lie about players’ injuries, but they are not obligated to volunteer specifics.
While there is almost no question whether or not Holmgren lied about the improving conditions of his star forward, he didn’t specifically lie about what the injury was. This brings into question how far this vaguely worded policy stretches.
In the case of Chris Pronger, the policy is almost impossible to enforce, because, whether it would have kept him out of the lineup or not, it’s entirely possible Pronger was suffering from other injuries as well, but in the case of Giroux, Holmgren was directly deceptive about the injury. He was not lying about what the injury was (though he did at one point suggest that it could be whiplash without ruling out a concussion), but he was lying about the injury itself. It’s a murky grey area, and open almost completely to the discretion of the league, which may be how they wanted it in the first place.
Does Holmgren’s lying about the severity of symptoms equate to lying about the injury under this rule, and if not, why?
That’s the burning question, and in my mind, it is a violation, and it is worthy of some form of punishment. While it is reasonable to desire the privilege of only partial disclosure, there is no need for lying. The media and consequently the public deserve honesty. Holmgren has the right to offer up as little information as he likes, but at no time is there a necessity for him to directly lie to fans about the condition of one of their most-beloved stars. That quite clearly cross a line, and the NHL’s failure to take action on such a classless stunt will only lead to more of the same behavior from organizations around the league.