I read this quote from Columbus's James Wisniewski with more resignation than frustration. From the Dispatch, he's talking about going head-first into the boards in the sixth and deciding game of the Blue Jackets' first-round series loss to Pittsburgh:
My head didn't feel great in Game 6. I said my back hurt so I didn't have to do the 20-minute protocol and go through that whole concussion process. I didn't feel like going in and talking to the doctors for 20 minutes. A lot of guys were playing through things. Guys with fractured feet, separated shoulders…Foligno came back in 2 ½ weeks from a sprain, which is usually four to six weeks. That's playoff hockey. It's survival of the fittest.
It's really easy for me (and doctors) to say that head traumas are different from fractures and sprains and tears, that only brain injuries carry the potential for shorter lives of declining quality. But to athletes, they're all the same: Just one more thing that'll keep you out of the game if you let it. The leagues have their quiet rooms and protocols, but those protocols don't matter since players have learned they can just lie their way out of any bell-ringing that doesn't result in unconsciousness. It's a battle between education and self-stigma, and it's hard to see prudence ever winning out in the playoffs.