Leonsis: More needs to be done to keep NHL players healthy

WASHINGTON – The health of hockey players is the most important issue in the NHL and while the league is making efforts to reduce injuries, they need to do better.

That’s what Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said on Wednesday when he was a guest on WTOP’s “Ask the Owner” show. Leonsis, who also owns the Washington Wizards, spoke about recovering from the NHL lockout, the Caps struggle to implement new strategies and his goal for the Wizards to play .500 basketball.

“There’s nowhere to run out of bounds in hockey. The players are getting bigger and faster, and the ice isn’t. So we’re very, very concerned about it, ” Leonsis said.

“These are violent games played at high speeds by big people, and we have to do our best.”

Leonsis said a lot of concussions are caused by players getting hit in the jaw, where they’re wearing mouth guards. Niklas Backstrom was injured recently when he was hit with an elbow in the forehead, where the helmet can’t protect him, Leonsis said. He was out for more than two weeks recovering, but doctors determined he had not suffered a concussion.

“The NHL does a lot of work and really was the leader in trying to protect players from concussions,” Leonsis said. “George McPhee is on one of the committees and there is a lot of work being done in Canada and the U.S.”

Leonsis said the NHL needs to take care of its veteran players, especially, and those who have retired.

“All leagues are looking at how to be more thoughtful and more supportive of the alumni.”

For a full recap of the interview, read the blog below. Or, listen to the show by clicking audio on the right.

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(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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