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(Elsa/2011 Getty Images)
(Elsa/2011 Getty Images)

Concussion protocol cannot come soon enough Add to ...

The NHL's new concussion protocol goes into effect Thursday night. Good thing, too, since the concussion issue is not about to be wrestled to the ice by the league's stringent discipline.

San Jose's Dany Heatley targets the head of rival Steve Ott, rattles him with an elbow and gets a two-game suspension.

Boston's Brad Marchand targets the head of rival R.J. Umberger, rattles him with an elbow from behind and gets a two-game suspension.

Two games. Now that must really strike fear in players. "Wow, if I hit a guy in the head I'm going to have to sit out TWO WHOLE games! I better play smart."

Not likely to happen.

The NHL had a glorious opportunity to punish serial head-shot artist Trevor Gillies of the New York Islanders and gave him nine then 10 games when he should have sat out the rest of the season. And while still talking up the seriousness of head shots at its general managers' meetings in Florida, the league was presented with another chance to send a stern message and decided two games were enough for both Heatley and Marchand.

That after the GMs decided there should be stiffer penalties for players who go head-hunting.

But fear not: any player who gets cracked in the head will now spend 15 minutes in a quiet area being examined by a doctor. Which begs the question: this is progress? Why wasn't it being done before?

So many questions, so many frustrations and still too many players getting off lightly.

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