OTTAWA - With concussions a big concern around the league, equipment company Bauer is introducing what it calls a first-of-its kind helmet that protects against direct and glancing blows that can cause the brain to rotate.
Bauer unveiled its "Re-Akt" helmet at the All-Star weekend festivities Friday, saying the design features a free-floating stretchable liner that moves independently from the rest of the helmet. By floating, the liner is capable of better protecting the brain from rotational forces that can lead to concussions, it said.
Though saying no helmet can prevent concussions, Bauer officials said they have had positive results after two-plus years of testing.
Lightning All-Star Steven Stamkos, who has an endorsement deal with Bauer, said he has used the helmet in practice and intends to start wearing it in games. Penguins star Sidney Crosby's concussion problems, which have sidelined him for all but eight games in the past year, were a wake-up call, he said.
"I think it was alarming the last year and a half, the amount of concussions that were being diagnosed and the amount of time that guys are missing, obviously with Sid and his situation," Stamkos said. "I think that was kind of the thing that made it go over the top, seeing a player of his caliber and the amount of time that he's missed."
The helmet is scheduled to go on sale to the public in May for about $220.
ALL-STAR SKILLS: Team captains Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara made assignments for tonight's skills competition. Stamkos, the Lightning's lone representative, will participate for Team Alfredsson in accuracy shooting, the skills relay and the elimination shootout. Alfredsson and Chara put themselves in the hardest-shot competition. Chara broke his event record last year with a 105.9 mph shot to take his fourth straight title.
THOMAS BLAMES MEDIA: Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, criticized for refusing to attend the Stanley Cup champions' White House visit this week because he believes the federal government is "out of control," said the issue is "all media-driven, and it has been from the start." Speaking at the All-Star Game, he also said, "I would really appreciate if people would leave my teammates and my family out of it."
TRADE: The Blackhawks added depth at center, acquiring 15-year veteran Brendan Morrison from the Flames for AHL defenseman Brian Connelly.
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When/where: Through Sunday, Ottawa
TV: Skills competition, 7 tonight, NBC Sports Network;game, 4 p.m. Sunday, NBC Sports Network