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On skate lacerations and the potential "Tyler Seguin rule"
It's being discussed this week at the NHL GM Meetings.
They’ll probably call it the Tyler Seguin rule.
NHL general managers are meeting this week in Florida, and one of the topics on the docket is requiring players to wear cut-proof under garments.
The technology is available, players have access to kevlar-lined stretchable materials, including socks, but league-wide adoption is far from a reality.
Which can be a source of frustration for GMs, like Ken Holland in Edmonton or Jim Nill in Dallas, who have both lost players for extended time this season because of cuts from skates that, in theory, could have been avoided.
Seguin is the most recent example, getting his leg right above the knee sliced by a skate last week in Buffalo.
It’s been described as superficial, none of the tendons or nerves were cut, but close to 30 stitches were required to fix it. With the location of the cut, every stride could re-open it until it heals properly.
Pete DeBoer said it should only be a couple weeks, which is an optimistic viewpoint, but also more reflective of Seguin’s drive to return before the playoffs, and his pain tolerance, then an ideal medical recommendation for recovery.
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The Stars and Seguin know all too well about about the impacts of skate cuts.
On March 17, 2016 — seven years ago this week, time flies — Seguin had his achilles sliced by a skate in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He missed the remainder of the regular season, tried to power through, but was only able to play one playoff game.
The injury, in a year where the Stars lost in Game 7 of the second round, could have potentially cost the Stars a second Stanley Cup. There is an alternate reality where a healthy Seguin is the difference in that series with the St. Louis Blues.
The achilles injury also derailed Seguin long-term, while he returned and played 82 games the next season, there’s a clear divide in his career pre-and-post achilles injury, Seguin was getting post-season All-Star Team votes on annual basis that coincidentally ended after the injury.
Jamie Benn’s revival has been the bigger story in Dallas, but Seguin’s surge to something that looked like pre-injury normalcy was one of the under-rated storylines of the NHL season.
Now that season has been limited by another skate cut injury, albeit this one even more freakish in the location and somewhere kevlar socks, which Seguin wears, wouldn’t have covered.
It’s easy to sit here and demand players wear certain protective equipment. It feels like common sense, like wearing a seatbelt when you get into the car.
But reaching out to a couple players, both current and former, it’s not that simple to them.
Players are creatures of habit, they are naturally in a risky sport and accept that risk. Comfort level is important, and as one pointed out for all the “thousands of hours” he’s practiced and played in his life, he was never close to getting cut with a skate.
That’s what GMs are fighting against when they try to put a rule into place, and the NHLPA has to fight for its constituency.
A former player told me it sucks that Evander Kane and Seguin got cut by skates this season, but for the thousands and thousands of shifts taken in the NHL this season, only two have led to skate lacerations — isn’t that an over reaction to an accident?
So what would the potential Seguin rule look like?
Like any piece of safety equipment requirement, it would likely have to be grandfathered in, similar to the rules on helmets and visors. Benn for example, is in a race with Ryan O’Reilly to see which player will be the final NHL player without a visor.
Players entering the league next season, in theory, would be required to use certain cut-proof materials, eventually reaching a point where the entire league was covered.
An entire league’s game day undergarments potentially being policed by something called the Tyler Seguin rule… surely you never saw that coming.