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Bettman sees progress on concussions

NEW YORK -- The NHL's new protocol to evaluate players who have potentially sustained a concussion is hardly perfect, but the league is pleased in the early stages.

At the March meeting of NHL general managers, new guidelines were adopted that make it mandatory for any player showing concussion symptoms to be examined by a doctor in the locker room or a quiet room. Before, an examination on the bench by a trainer was the minimum requirement.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on Friday that they are happy with how teams are handling the process that has been in place for only a month.

The new evaluation guidelines are the latest step by the NHL, which is trying to slow the rising rate of concussions. Last year, GMs approved a ban on blindside hits that target an opponent's head. The group voted against a full outlaw of head shots last month.

"We're primarily raising awareness of the clubs and the club personnel of what they should be looking for and how the players should be evaluated," Daly said. "The focus, unfortunately, has been too much on how this has been a league mandate, and if it looks like something happened and there is noncompliance, what was the penalty?

"That is not how we focus on it. We're not like the concussion police. We are trying to sensitize everyone to the issue."

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