Stars to get specific when describing player injuries

Fans of the National Hockey League have become accustomed to the vagueness of teams' injury disclosures, which usually range from "upper body" to "lower body."

But Dallas Stars coach Ken Hitchcock believes there's no harm in reporting what ails his players, and he would like to see the "games" end when it comes to releasing injury information.

"I think we collectively hate playing the game. What I mean by that is [that] we say 'upper body,' then you go on the phone, and then you look up things or you go to the doctors, find out what part of the upper body ... [so] we try to make your work easier, quite frankly," he told reporters on Tuesday in Dallas, via The Athletic.

"It's just easy to tell you what it is and let's move forward. It's just the whole game. It's an injury, and within two hours after we tell you it's 'upper body,' you know exactly what it is, so why not just tell you?"

The NHL's disclosure policy allows teams to define player injuries as "upper or lower body" and keep the details to themselves; in theory, this is for the benefit of the injured player.

According to the NHL's media regulations: "When an injury occurs in a regular season game, a Club spokesperson must notify the media of the approximate location, nature, and severity of the injury as soon as possible, except to the extent that the Club determines that such disclosure may jeopardize the Player's physical well-being if and when the Player returns to play, in which case the Club is entitled to provide a more general overview of the Player's injury status."

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz told ESPN on Tuesday that there are some injuries his team will disclose and others it won't, based on sensitivity or severity.

"I think you want to protect the player a little bit. Players in the league will target certain parts of the body," he said.

But Hitchcock refuted that notion. "The players don't go out and say: 'He has a broken left pinkie and we're going to go after that 'pinkie.' Nobody thinks like that," he said.

The NHL's policy is in stark contrast with that of another contact sport, the National Football League. The NFL "requires that teams provide credible, accurate and specific information about injured players to the league office, their opponents, local and national media, and the league's broadcast partners each week during the regular season and postseason."

Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks blasted the NFL's injury disclosure policy in September, saying it was specifically tailored to benefit those gambling on games.

"Maybe somebody should look into that, because I thought we weren't a gambling league and we were against all those things. But our injury report is specifically to make sure the gamblers get their odds right," Sherman said.

A spokesman for the NFL told the Seattle Times that the policy maintains the integrity of the games.

"Without such a policy, you could envision a potential scenario in which a teammate or team personnel could be approached by a third party to sell inside information about a player's undisclosed injury that could sideline or inhibit his performance. The policy, which is closely monitored by the league, provides a transparent look at player availability," the NFL spokesman said.

Trotz said that injury disclosure is just a traditional difference between the sports.

"It's just been part of the culture [in the NHL]," Trotz said. "In the NFL, [disclosure] is part of their culture. Maybe we'll catch up."

Hitchcock believes it's time that they do. "Our feeling is just tell [the public] what the injury is," he said. "Let's stop the dance."