There will be some added onlookers at NHL games this season, and they won't be watching for goals.
In an effort to boost its ongoing concussion protocol, the NHL is in the process of hiring concussion "spotters" for all 30 arenas, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to ESPN.com on Monday.
The move has the blessing of the NHL Players’ Association, as the union and league run the concussion program jointly.
There have been club concussion spotters for the past few seasons -- people hired by teams -- but this season they will be independent. There will be two designated people per building with varied backgrounds who will split the games.
Their only given job on any given night will be spotting for any visible signs of concussion. They will log all those incidents into a file.
If or when a club wants to use the league spotter instead of their own, they can do that, in which case the spotter will have communication abilities down to the bench to talk to the trainer. But on most nights, because most clubs want to maintain this responsibility in-house, the new independent spotters are there just logging incidents.
The bottom line is that the new league spotters are going to increase documentation. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, the league will be able to compare how its own independent spotters are doing compared to club spotters.
This is just me, but one supposes that if there’s a significant difference between what the league spotters are logging compared to what the club spotters are reporting, that could make for an interesting discussion and potential decision a year from now.
And you don't have to ask yourself why the league continues to try to increase its concussion protocol when you look at the ongoing litigation involving former players.
It just makes sense. Hopefully it works.