Stubbed Toes, Ingrown Hairs, and NHL Injury Reporting


Nov 19, 2013; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers player

Corey Potter

(44) leaves the ice with the trainer after getting injured in the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Chris Austin-USA TODAY Sports

Lindy Ruff, head coach of the Dallas Stars, recently described an injury to one of his players as “kind of mid-body”. Should the NHL disclose the exact nature of an injury or is it really none of our business?

NHL Injury Reporting is rather poor right now. Usually, injuries are describe as “upper body” or “lower body” which doesn’t really tell us much. For example, an upper body injury could be anything from a hip injury (which is what Valeri Nichushkin has) all the way up to a concussion, though they might go as far as to describe a concussion as a head injury. But now, thanks to Lindy Ruff, we have “mid-body”.

More from Dallas Stars

"“Well, the one guy, it’s kind of mid-body. I think the one guy, depends where he carries it, it could be lower or upper. The other guy is lower. We might as well get a little more detail. I give you guys mid-body now. One guy’s mid. One guy’s lower and one guy can be anyplace.”"

Ruff was referring to either Brett Ritchie or Trevor Daley for the mid-body injury, the other would be the lower body injury. Confused? To make matters worse, Ruff said that one of the injuries “depends where he [the injured player] carries it, it could be lower or upper.” Yes, you read that right. Depends on where he carries it.

This is a family website, so I am going to try to discuss this as delicately as I can. It seems that one of those players (Ritchie or Daley) could possibly be suffering an injury to the nether regions. In this case, I can see Ruff not wanting to come right out and say, “Player X was accidentally kicked in a sensitive area and needs to keep it iced for a few days.” If I were Player X, I don’t think I would want that made public.

Is a Change Needed in NHL Injury Reporting?

Ruff’s comments lead us to a larger question, namely is a change in the NHL injury reporting process needed? Most other major sports (MLB, NFL, and NBA) are usually pretty forthright when it comes to player injuries. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, there is some kind of announcement made saying, “Player X has an ACL tear and will be out for the remainder of the season.” But not so with the NHL. Though, to be fair, the NHL does often give a time frame for Player X’s return. But, don’t the players have any privacy rights? you might ask. As usual, you ask a very good question.

The United States has something called HIPPA laws, which are intended to protect the confidentiality of patients’ medical information and treatments. If you have ever been to a doctor’s office in the US you have likely signed a HIPPA consent form. Players have the same rights we do when it comes to a private (or personal) physician, but not when it’s a team doctor.

HIPPA  does not protect the confidentiality of information and treatment when the doctor works for the player’s employer (which would be the team). Team doctors work for the team and therefore are excluded from HIPPA. The team itself is also excluded from HIPPA, therefore any treatment that a team physician performs on a player can legally be told to the team and the team can legally release that information to the public.

The answer to the question “does NHL injury reporting need changed” is a resounding YES! but with some discretion. Fans spend a lot of money on tickets, merchandise, memorabilia, etc. and so, to a certain extent, have a right to know why their favorite player is out of the game. Unless the injury is very private or embarrassing.

I feel, and I think that most fans would agree with me, that sometimes we need to know. If the team comes right out and says, “Player X has a concussion,” you likely will not hear fans complaining. Concussions are series business. Upper body injury sounds like Player X may have just jammed his finger which is a far cry from a concussion which has the potential to end a career.

I do, however, think that there are some cases where it’s OK to keep things from fans. If a player contracted an STD or something embarrassing like that, “lower body injury” (or “mid-body” as we previously discussed) is just fine. However, if Player X pulled his hamstring and will miss 2-4 weeks, just tell us. Sports franchises would not exist without fans and so the fans have earned the right be told why their favorite player is out.