You're probably well aware that concussions have become something of an epidemic in the NHL over the past few years. It's not like nobody's talking about it. But just recently, the epidemic has taken a nasty turn, targeting star players with sudden aplomb.
It's almost as though the brains of NHL superstars need a tough guy.
It's not just Sidney Crosby anymore. The injury list is littered with big names.
There are three franchise defensemen (and two Norris Trophy candidates) on the mend with head injuries, and two Hart Trophy hopefuls. In the past week alone, both players that have overtaken Phil Kessel for the NHL goal scoring lead have succumbed to concussions.
As it stands, the quiet room has become like the prison cell in The Usual Suspects, chock-a-block with enough standouts to put together one Hell of a team.
So that's what we're gonna do. I present to you the NHL All-Concussion Team. If all its players weren't currently out with concussions, I'm confident my team would contend for the Stanley Cup.
1st Line: Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Milan Michalek
The ACT's 1st line is a nightmare for defenders, with Sidney Crosby at centre, flanked by Hart and Art Ross frontrunner Claude Giroux at right wing and Rocket Richard candidate Milan Michalek at left. You'd be hard-pressed to get these three guys together on a fantasy team these days.
2nd Line: Jeff Skinner, Mike Richards, Nathan Gerbe
Our 2nd line is no slouch either, as Mike Richards anchors a small, but skilled trio that boasts the shifty duo of Skinner and Gerbe as its pivots. (Gerbe lost the coin toss, and therefore has to shift to the right side.) This line is tenacious on the forecheck, lightning-fast, and handsy as all Hell.
3rd Line: Peter Mueller, Brayden Schenn, Andy McDonald
The skill drops off slightly for the ACT's 3rd line, but this group can still be counted on for some timely offense. Young Brayden Schenn lines up in the middle, with Peter Mueller at right wing and Andy McDonald playing at the left. There's speed, skill, and plenty of potential, and since this line will face easier competition due to the players above them, they'll get their points.
4th Line: Jay Beagle, Marcel Goc, Nino Niederreiter
And finally, our 4th line boasts Beagle, Goc, and Neiderreiter as a checking trio with an emphasis on youth. Goc acts as the veteran presence, and Beagle and Neiderreiter are able to come along slowly, what with the firepower ahead of them.
The defense corps for the ACT is even more star-studded than the forward corps. Our first pairing features Chris Pronger and Kris Letang, a past Norris winner and, arguably, a future one. They average about 25 minutes a night.
Our second pairing boasts Zbynek Michalek on the right side and Marc Staal on the left. They drive the play forward, they're strong, and they're good for 50 points between them.
And finally, our third pairing features Joni Pitkanen on the left and Marek Zidlicky on the right.
It's not the toughest top-six, but if we're playing a grittier opponent, we can always inject 7th defenseman Michael Sauer or 8th defenseman Roberto Bortuzzo somewhere into the mix.
Unfortunately for the ACT, we don't have a goalie right now, although had we formed a month ago, we'd have boasted the formidable tandem of Ryan Miller and James Reimer. And heck, the way things are going, a month from now, we'll probably have some great names to choose from.
In the meantime, we'll just play without a goalie. It's working for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And with a powerplay of Crosby, Giroux, Michalek, Pronger, and Letang, maybe we can outscore our problems in goal.