The NHL’s concussion spotter protocol is in for a bit of a shake-up in the 2016-17 season, according to a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
He reports that the NHL will have four independent trainers labeled “Central Spotters” watching all games via television. If they believe they have spotted signs of a concussion they will make a call to inform the team that the “player must be removed from the game,” says Friedman. The spotters will have the authority to force the player to exit the game.
At least one reason for the change has been the Dennis Wideman debacle. The league suspended him 20 games for hitting linesman Don Henderson during a game in January and his sentence was later reduced after in-hearing testimony that indicated that the concussion spotters at the game requested the team remove him from the game to undergo concussion protocol. Wideman declined to exit the game but later revealed that he did have a concussion.
Friedman writes that the league will disclose details on the program before the start of the regular season and that all spotters have hockey backgrounds and no team affiliation. In-arena concussion spotters will still be available to all teams.