Hide the injury is part of the NHL culture

Exactly where is the wrist located on one's body?

Is it part of the upper body because it is attached to the arm, which goes to the shoulder? Is it the lower body because when one's arm hangs down, the wrist is below the waist?

These are burning questions in the NHL because of the way teams report injuries.

Teams cannot falsify information, but specifics are not required. All they must do is indicate the injury is to the upper or lower body.

"And then Babcock throws out mid body," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. "What the hell is that?"

Reporting injuries always has been a touchy subject in the NHL. And the rules adopted by general managers in 2008 created a tug of war between secrecy and transparency.

Revealing injuries would give opponents a competitive advantage, some teams say. And if injuries are revealed, they might be targeted with a whack of a stick to get opponents out of a game.

Fans and reporters simply want more information.

They get it out of the NFL, which requires teams to report every hangnail. And specific injuries to NBA and Major League Baseball players are available on sports-related Internet sites.

Of course, basketball and baseball are not contact sports like hockey, and Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said of the NFL's rules: "It makes it better when you place your bets. You have more information.

"Because football does it doesn't make it right (for the NHL)," he added. "Why does disclosing injuries help us competitively? I don't feel there's any reason to disclose any injuries to anybody, forget upper body, lower body. There's nothing in it for us."

It can be dangerous for players, former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk said, even though the game is much less violent that it was.

"As a player I didn't want people to know what's wrong with me," Andreychuk said, and added, "If a guy has a sore right hand, that's just the way life is, I'm going to whack him on the right hand. Nobody likes to talk about that, but that's the reality."

"It happens," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, "more than you think."

Perhaps, but it is difficult to believe video scouting would not reveal who is hurt and where regardless of a team's secrecy.

Besides, Hitchcock said, players can police that situation themselves: "If they're coming after one of your injured players, you have the obligation to do the same to them."

As for not revealing injuries, Hitchcock said, "It's stupid.

"All it does is make (reporters) … mistrust us. What's the big deal? A guy has a sore shoulder, he has a sore shoulder. We're playing games with this stuff. If a guy gets hurt and he has an injury, we'll tell you where it is and what it is. They do it every day in football. It's no big deal."

It is to some.

"Everyone is trying to look for a story. Everyone is trying to break something open," Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer said. "I think that's a detriment to the team and player. There's very few things that aren't exposed now. I don't know why we have to expose everything."

"The star players, especially, you want to keep their injuries behind closed doors," said left wing Ryan Malone, who has had two upper-body injuries this season. "Why put that information out there?"

Tampa Bay even declined to specify what illness kept right wing Teddy Purcell out of Wednesday's practice.

Joked Sun Sports play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham: "Inner body."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

Hide the injury is part of the NHL culture 11/20/11 [Last modified: Sunday, November 20, 2011 8:39pm]

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