Insurance firms, NHL face off over concussions
Published Thursday, February 2, 2012 8:44AM EST
With the number of concussions growing in the National Hockey League, insurance companies are considering throwing the financial burden back on the league's teams.
More than 60 NHL players are sidelined with head injuries this season including Pittsburgh Penguin captain Sidney Crosby.
Now insurance companies specializing in sports say that the league's 30 teams will have to absorb the risk of million-dollar contracts alone as the number of players sidelined increases.
And if that were to happen, NHL teams would not be able to get coverage for players who suffer head injuries. Teams would be on the hook for injured players' multimillion-dollar contracts without any compensation from insurance companies.
"First and foremost it is potentially devastating," Howard Bloom of Sports Business News told CTV's Canada AM. "Its implications are really very, very terrifying for the National Hockey League and the sport of hockey."
The Penguins have managed to sidestep the huge payout for Crosby's $9-million a year contract as the team has an insurance policy, which covers the superstar's absence if he is injured and out of the lineup for more than 30 games.
Crosby has played eight games since suffering multiple head and neck injuries more than a year ago.
But this could prove to be a huge financial burden for some of the smaller market cash-strapped teams.
And this is also something that the NHL and the National Hockey League Players Association will inevitably face off against each other down the road, Bloom said.
"I certainly don't think it will be an issue in the current collective bargaining agreement, but long term that's something that the NHL and the NHLPA is going to have to deal with," he said.
The spike in concussions can be traced to a couple factors. Players are bigger and the game is faster, equipment is lighter and harder, and new rules like curbing interference and obstruction and eliminating the centre line for two-line off sides have sped up the game.