BOCA RATON, Fla., March 16 (UPI) -- The NHL will institute a beefed-up concussion protocol starting immediately, league general managers said Wednesday.
Under the new procedures, a player exhibiting concussion symptoms after a hit will be removed from the bench to be tested for 15 minutes in a quiet area away from the ice, NHL.com reported.
The protocol will be in effect starting with Wednesday night's games, said GMs attending league meetings in Boca Raton, Fla.
The new rules remove an element of choice from players, who now will be forced to leave the ice to be tested no matter the game situation if they show such symptoms as loss of consciousness, motor incoordination or balance problems.
"That's a huge change," Nashville GM David Poile told NHL.com. "It's a very caring change to make sure we're right. It's the game of hockey, it's going to be physical. As the caretakers we're going to do everything possible to make it as safe as possible, but there are still going to be injuries."
The new protocol was instituted after a rash of concussions this season, including one sustained by Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby, who has been out since early January.