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Why so many concussions from shots lately?


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Price concussed and out indefinitely after taking a shot to the mask. 

Both Mason and Hutch on Jets recently concussed from shots to the mask. 

There have been others as well. 

Are masks no longer safe enough to protect goalies? 

Or have goalies always have been getting concussions but were never diagnosed like they are today?

Does mask design have to evolve to further protect goalies?

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Answer number 1: A 90+mph shot to the side walls will do that to you. I got a beer league wrister to the side of the jaw and it felt like a well placed sucker punch. My jaw was sore a couple hours. I can just imagine what they go through.

Answer 2: I don't believe that masks have gotten less protective. It's more of where the impact on the mask is taken that makes a difference and if the goalie has a chance to brace for it.

Answer 3: I'm sure there's a plethora of goalies in the past decade that have suffered a concussion or even a couple that were either undeclared, ignored or simply undetected. With the new league precautionary rules, and the money invested in these players, they don't want to take unnecessary risks, therefore they pull the player out and give them the benefit of the doubt.

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Not an expert in masks by any means but I fail to see how mask foams can be the chief ingredient in stopping concussions.

The goalie mask has evolved very slowly since coming from the full-faced versions of the 70s and before. It's time they start evolving again into something stronger especially with these players and their million dollar contracts on the line.

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The few times I've had a good zinger to my helmet it hit the area where the cage meets mask at the logo almost. Seems like the shells are designed to help grazers, but direct impacts to flattened areas of the masks are what the source of these concussions are. Except Fleury, of course. He got a fast moving limb-piece to the head. That's hard to prevent in a vulnerable situation like that.

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Concussion protocol has so much to do with why so many. It is just reporting. I know I went back into games as a youth that I had no business going back into after a hit to the head. 

Style of play has a factor. Playing low with shots going high will earn a few more hits to the noggin. 

That being said, I would not be surprised if layups get changed. When I finally get to build my own shell, I have a few ideas of how to improve the layup of a helmet to prevent further deflection in certain spots. 

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6 hours ago, ULTIMA said:

Not an expert in masks by any means but I fail to see how mask foams can be the chief ingredient in stopping concussions.

The goalie mask has evolved very slowly since coming from the full-faced versions of the 70s and before. It's time they start evolving again into something stronger especially with these players and their million dollar contracts on the line.

Well its all about slowing down the impact and spreading the force over a larger area, so if you have foams/materials that do that well then concussions could be reduced, though i don't think foams will help with the rotational forces which are worse than the straight on hit.

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6 hours ago, Moose75 said:

I'm just curious: what brands and models are these guys wearing? I know Price/Fleury/Hutch were in CCM shells (or at least for Hutch last I knew). Mase is Bauer, but is it the newer foams or cream?

NHL guys in CCM use a liner that is very similar to the newest CCM retail helmet. It is a black foam. However, I believe the pros skip the D30 (silly though?). The shells have differences. There are some unknown differences in the layup and they are made (maybe by hand?) by a carbon fiber composite company in Montreal that does aerospace sub-contract work for Bombardier. The CCM NHL mask is the nicest mask I have ever seen. Light and it feels like a tank on your head. It's my understanding that the masks sell to the NHL teams at $2000 and that is why they are not at retail. 

Image result for ccm GF pro goalie maskimage.png.862c8f79cdf7704c91163b6cb892f66d.png

Nearly all NHL guys in an 960 switched the XPM version which has upgraded foam. I almost positive that Mason is one of the few using cream foam still

Image result for steve mason jets mask

Nearly all guys in NME models opt for cream still (Duby, Vasy, Schnieder, Wedgewood, etc etc). I have seen pictures of Vasy with a VTX and stock foam in Tampa. As someone who has demoed the helmet, the new VTX foam is comfy and I trust it absorbs better than cream foam. No reason to skip it. 

image.png.7675f44372afbd1e78cc0c7ca1e8bcba.png

6 hours ago, ULTIMA said:

Not an expert in masks by any means but I fail to see how mask foams can be the chief ingredient in stopping concussions.

The goalie mask has evolved very slowly since coming from the full-faced versions of the 70s and before. It's time they start evolving again into something stronger especially with these players and their million dollar contracts on the line.

30 minutes ago, Znowleopard said:

Well its all about slowing down the impact and spreading the force over a larger area, so if you have foams/materials that do that well then concussions could be reduced, though i don't think foams will help with the rotational forces which are worse than the straight on hit.

Agreed with foams and slowing / spreading out the puck force. However, I wonder if it wouldn't somewhat be beneficial for the outside of the mask? Is there a rubberized coating that could be put on the outside of the mask to act as a shock absorber? 

I also think that shot issues come into play. With wood sticks, you had to watch out for MacInnis and Iafrate at 100mph. With composites, you have Chara and Weber at 110mph... But you have Ovi, Stamkos, PK, etc etc etc all at 100mph. The average shot speed of the average NHL player has increased dramatically with the composite sticks 

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37 minutes ago, TheGoalNet said:

NHL guys in CCM use a liner that is very similar to the newest CCM retail helmet. It is a black foam. However, I believe the pros skip the D30 (silly though?). The shells have differences. There are some unknown differences in the layup and they are made (maybe by hand?) by a carbon fiber composite company in Montreal that does aerospace sub-contract work for Bombardier. The CCM NHL mask is the nicest mask I have ever seen. Light and it feels like a tank on your head. It's my understanding that the masks sell to the NHL teams at $2000 and that is why they are not at retail. 

Image result for ccm GF pro goalie maskimage.png.862c8f79cdf7704c91163b6cb892f66d.png

Nearly all NHL guys in an 960 switched the XPM version which has upgraded foam. I almost positive that Mason is one of the few using cream foam still

Image result for steve mason jets mask

Nearly all guys in NME models opt for cream still (Duby, Vasy, Schnieder, Wedgewood, etc etc). I have seen pictures of Vasy with a VTX and stock foam in Tampa. As someone who has demoed the helmet, the new VTX foam is comfy and I trust it absorbs better than cream foam. No reason to skip it. 

image.png.7675f44372afbd1e78cc0c7ca1e8bcba.png

Agreed with foams and slowing / spreading out the puck force. However, I wonder if it wouldn't somewhat be beneficial for the outside of the mask? Is there a rubberized coating that could be put on the outside of the mask to act as a shock absorber? 

I also think that shot issues come into play. With wood sticks, you had to watch out for MacInnis and Iafrate at 100mph. With composites, you have Chara and Weber at 110mph... But you have Ovi, Stamkos, PK, etc etc etc all at 100mph. The average shot speed of the average NHL player has increased dramatically with the composite sticks 

i think a rubberized coating would be worse, as it would add friction when the puck hits and "pull" the mask, where you would rather have the puck glace off, if any one is familiar with the VICIS American football helmet design

images.duckduckgo_com.jpg.a20eba4f2480a56797bfaccd3f547a69.jpg

, i think that would be the way to go forward with mask design. (of course im in no way in the know when it comes to this its just my thoughts)

Edited by Znowleopard
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41 minutes ago, TheGoalNet said:

NHL guys in CCM use a liner that is very similar to the newest CCM retail helmet. It is a black foam. However, I believe the pros skip the D30 (silly though?). The shells have differences. There are some unknown differences in the layup and they are made (maybe by hand?) by a carbon fiber composite company in Montreal that does aerospace sub-contract work for Bombardier. The CCM NHL mask is the nicest mask I have ever seen. Light and it feels like a tank on your head. It's my understanding that the masks sell to the NHL teams at $2000 and that is why they are not at retail. 

Image result for ccm GF pro goalie maskimage.png.862c8f79cdf7704c91163b6cb892f66d.png

Nearly all NHL guys in an 960 switched the XPM version which has upgraded foam. I almost positive that Mason is one of the few using cream foam still

Image result for steve mason jets mask

Nearly all guys in NME models opt for cream still (Duby, Vasy, Schnieder, Wedgewood, etc etc). I have seen pictures of Vasy with a VTX and stock foam in Tampa. As someone who has demoed the helmet, the new VTX foam is comfy and I trust it absorbs better than cream foam. No reason to skip it. 

image.png.7675f44372afbd1e78cc0c7ca1e8bcba.png

Agreed with foams and slowing / spreading out the puck force. However, I wonder if it wouldn't somewhat be beneficial for the outside of the mask? Is there a rubberized coating that could be put on the outside of the mask to act as a shock absorber? 

I also think that shot issues come into play. With wood sticks, you had to watch out for MacInnis and Iafrate at 100mph. With composites, you have Chara and Weber at 110mph... But you have Ovi, Stamkos, PK, etc etc etc all at 100mph. The average shot speed of the average NHL player has increased dramatically with the composite sticks 

I'm of the opinion that it's not the strength of the materials going into the shell itself at this point; Kevlar, Carbon Fiber, Polymers etc. Those materials have proven hey can take the impact and not crack. I mean heck, in some of these concussion cases the paint isn't even chipped.

I'd compare the situation to the automotive industry. In the 40's and 50's, steel was used wherever possible (yes i'm aware of the lack of other materials for mass production) and impacts maybe left a dent in the steel while the passenger was thrown from the vehicle or impaled on the steering wheel. Polymers, composites, and alloys enable crumple zones and air bags to dissipate the impact on the passengers. This is a dramatic departure from the previous thought of using steel for brute strength. I'm not suggesting controlled deformation in masks, but I do think the foams need more development than shells.

Honestly, one of the reasons I haven't switched my cream padding to Maltese is that I feel retail packaged strips of it aren't enough. The greater the number of contact points (surface area in contact with the head) the greater the ability to dissipate the impact over that larger surface, and reduce stress on any single location.  

Edited by BadAngle41
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11 minutes ago, TheGoalNet said:

@BadAngle41 - Your point about crumple zones is exactly my thought about about the rubberized coating. Maybe the shells are too stiff now and need to give just a little to absorb the impact better 

Some guys may jump all over what about to say... but I LOVE my Wall W6 (it's a Polymer shell for those of you who don't know.) I've taken some decent bombs to the dome and I think part of the reason I don't get so much as even a ring is it's ability to flex just enough and absorb impact. I'm still of the opinion that foams could dramatically improved and I would like to do a full Maltese swap. 

One flaw in a rubberized coating would be the thickness necessary (and the resulting added weight) to be useful. I understand your thought though. You want something to absorb and deform yet be resilient enough to take the hit w/o having to be entirely replaced when it does happen. 

Edited by BadAngle41
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7 hours ago, bunnyman666 said:

Concussion protocol has so much to do with why so many. It is just reporting. I know I went back into games as a youth that I had no business going back into after a hit to the head.

This is definitely it.

Did you know that after the ARMY mandated the use of helmets on infantry, head injuries skyrocketed an obscene amount?

I mean, prior to that, it's pretty hard to report a head injury when you're painting the walls of the trenches/

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I tend to agree that concussion protocol is pretty “high end now” and I think that‘s a good thing. The other point is that it is I believe out of the team’s hands – that someone without a vested interest in that specific team’s well being makes the call – correct me if I am wrong on that.

Concussion protocol has come a long way since the ‘50s:

Toe Blake: “Sew him (Jacques Plante) up doc so we can get him back on the ice”

Jacques Plante: “I’m not going back without a mask”

Blake: “No mask, just go”

Plante: “I don’t think so”

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I do have a question in regards to this (I hope this is considered not too far off topic - if so admin can feel free to move it)

Back in the day (mid ‘70s) when I played with the old full face mask (no cage) you got a mask and a cute little package of 1/8” thick peel-and—stick padding for the inside of the mask. You placed those strategically on the inside of your mask (using your minutes of mask-fitting expertise) to get the mask to ride on the high points of your face – mainly cheek bones and forehead.

I now use a Hackva, which I ordered on-line. I was right on the border between the medium and large, so I went with the large with the theory I could always add padding if required.

I see a lot of guys talking about ordering padding for the inside of their mask and how thick it is etc. For me that is a non-issue because the only two points of contact I have on my mask is the sweatband and the chin cup (OK – there is probably a third somewhere near the top of my head to keep it from sliding down.) My question is – what points of contact do you have on your mask?

I put this out there because I sewed up my own slightly thicker sweat band and I honestly believe my mask “suspension system” is like a car, with the sweat band being like an air bag and the chin strap a resilient seat belt. I also believe these two points could be exploited in the search for concussion reduction – i.e. a slightly more resilient chin strap and dual density foam in the sweat band.

My proof is the clapper I took on the chin from the dot by a 6’-2 ~ 250lb fellow – felt like a slap on the chin (burning rubber smell included at no extra cost). And yes, it was during “warm-up

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As others have touched on, we are seeing more concussions because doctors are getting better at diagnosing them, and the hockey culture has changed to be very cautious with head injuries.  The average shot velocity has also crept up over the years.  Instead of one or two guys per team being able to uncork a clapper, you've probably got 5-10.  Goalies have gotten better, but the risk of injury is higher.

There are factors on the protection end of it, of course.  Fit, shell composition and integrity, and padding condition all come into play.

Under fit, I'm talking about how well the mask (and the padding inside) conforms to the player's head.  If it's done well, you have minimal to zero void spots and the head is nicely encased and padded where it needs to be.

For shell composition, I'm in the camp that shells should be as stiff as possible to deflect impact.  A shell that flexes or absorbs the shot will have the added risk of transferring that energy to the skull. That being said, I am not opposed to using material with vibration dampening properties between the shell and the mask padding as I think that could be helpful.

Finally padding condition - some padding out there absorbs sweat.  Rubatex is notorious for this.  As it does, the salt from sweat seeps into the foam and over time causes it to harden. Think of the palms in your crusty old gloves and you get the idea.  These guys are on the ice almost every day, and most possess insane work ethic; the padding is gonna degrade pretty quickly. 

Quickly touching on some padding technology that was brought up earlier -
Bauer is using Poron in select areas of their masks - this stuff is inconsistent as it tends to harden when it's cold, and become mushy soft when it's warm. 
D30 is a technology that has spread out into other sports for impact protection, and it's touted for its ability to instantly harden on impact.  In my opinion, this is great for areas that require flexibility and protection (elbows, back, hands, etc).  In contrast, the head is relatively static, and having a material that stiffens when struck seems counterproductive for headwear.

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20 minutes ago, Chenner29 said:

For shell composition, I'm in the camp that shells should be as stiff as possible to deflect impact.  A shell that flexes or absorbs the shot will have the added risk of transferring that energy to the skull

But wouldn't a shell that's very stiff transfer more energy then an shell that's slightly softer and therefor absorbs some of the energy.

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5 minutes ago, Znowleopard said:

But wouldn't a shell that's very stiff transfer more energy then an shell that's slightly softer and therefor absorbs some of the energy.

Would you rather have the puck go through your mask shell (an extreme case of flex and absorb) or have it deflect away?

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1 minute ago, Chenner29 said:

Would you rather have the puck go through your mask shell (an extreme case of flex and absorb) or have it deflect away?

 obviously i dont want a puck going through my mask, but maybe having a Shell that does some of the absorbing would be good , deflecting and absorbing dont have the be exclusive

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I'd also throw out there, and this is purely anecdotal observation so take it for what it is, but this season I've seen a lot more guys looking to snipe bar down just over the goalies shoulder. This is especially noticeable in shots coming from off center, where the goalie is frequently down in the VH/RVH, so guys are trying to pick the hole right next to the goalies head. 

Not sure if that's actually the case, but at least to me I'm seeing more of that going on this season. And more shots up high like that also mean more headshots are likely, especially if they're shooting over the goalies shoulder to avoid the glove hand. 

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A doctor from Montreal University, a leader in concussion researches, was on radio this morning. Saying that Price's concussion wasn't directly from the shot itself but from the result of the shot. He said that the concussion came from the whiplash move the head does when hit. I mean, the mask did it's job by protecting Price, but the impact pushed Price's head at a certain speed causing the brain to move even faster inside the skull and hit the skull causing the concussion. The kind of concussion you get in a car crash. Your head is protected by the air bag, no direct hit to the head, but your head movement makes you brain move too and that cause the concussion.

If the masks weren't safe, those goalies would have had a skull fracture I think. Same thing with Montoya earlier this season. He got hit on the chin. It caused a backlash to his head.

Price was hit on the side of his head if I remember, probably on the ear.

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