Injuries in sport are a common occurrence, of course. The majority come down to muscle injuries, whether that be a strain or tear in the muscle, and can often keep players out for lengthy periods of the season.
However, in recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of head injuries reported – many of them concussions. They’ve been around in the game for a long time, but quite often they used to be overlooked. That is, until recently, when more research than ever has been conducted into the impacts concussions have not just on players during their career, but also later in life.
Many studies have gone on to prove that players who suffer repeated impacts to the brain during their playing careers are at increased risks to illnesses such as dementia. As such, more sports are introducing additional measures to protect players and ensure that their welfare is one of the top priorities. Some sports have introduced concussion substitutes, others have introduced better padding to help protect players and reduce the impact on their skull.
One such player who is all too familiar with concussion injuries is Avalanche player, Bo Byram. Having started his career with the Avalanche just last season, he played 19 games, but only managed two assists during the COVID-19 interrupted campaign. But it wasn’t just the coronavirus that limited his playing time, he also suffered two significant head injuries which would add to the lack of opportunity he got on the ice.
The defenseman did recover and had made a great start to this season. In his first six games, he managed to improve on last season’s stats. Not bad going for a defensive player by any means, and goes to show why many people had considered him as a favorite for the Calder Trophy for NHL rookie of the year.
But he suffered a concussion in a match against the Vancouver Canucks in November, which ruled him out for six games. Defensive players do tend to take more hits than some others, as they throw their bodies on the line to take players out and block shots going anywhere near their net.
And it seems that despite having returned against the Nashville Predators, in a game that Colorado won 6-2, he has either not fully recovered, or he has picked up another injury. It was Avalanche coach Jared Bednar who announced the issue in a press briefing, where he stated he would be out again: “It’s related to his head. He doesn’t have a concussion but he’s got some issues going on from his previous injury and he wasn’t doing great this morning. So he’s out.”
But while they may have said he doesn’t have concussion, it is actually incredibly difficult to detect.
But how will this impact the Avalanche going forward? Well, we’ve already discussed his impressive statistics so far this season, and the fact he is a candidate for NHL rookie of the year, so losing Byram is a huge miss. Going into the season, the Avalanche were +475 to go on to win the Stanley Cup, the favorites by far, with the Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning behind them on +700.
William Hill has ice hockey odds that still place them as favorites for the Stanley Cup, although their odds have dropped slightly to +600.
As it stands, there has been no indication how long he may just be out. He hasn’t been skating of late. The team says it has no timeline. All you can do is wait – and hope it gets better.