Monday, February 11, 2008

Wake Up, Hockey

The good news is, you can't see much. The bad news is, that blood on the ice is coming from Richard Zednik's carotid artery.

The Florida Panthers forward needed 5 units of blood and an hour of surgery to undo the damage done by a teammate's skate in a freak accident.

Despite the damage, doctors are saying Zednik got off lucky. Considering the size of the slice and the general location, it would have been worse. Much worse.

It's time for hockey to wake up and mandate throat protection at all levels of the sport. Canadian youth hockey already requires it. Oddly enough, here in the litigious U.S.A., thousands of youth hockey players take the ice every day without any protection across the neck and throat.

The NHL could take the lead. Throat protection comes in a couple of forms (hard and soft), and all of those players who came through Canada's vast junior hockey system are already accustomed to wearing it. It's weird to read instructions for referees in games between U.S. and Canadian teams: make sure the Canadian kids are wearing throat guards (and by implication, don't worry about the U.S. skaters; it's not in the rules).

Here's what a soft neck guard looks like. A lot prettier than watching Richard Zednik's life ebb onto the ice.


Laura Bracken said...

I agree that youth hockey players should be required to wear throat protection. I have two goalies and both wear the plastic throat guard that attaches to the helmet, but I'm not even sure if that is required. It's a mom requirement, though.

We see a lot of players get jabbed in the throat by the butt end of a stick, but Zednik's incident makes it all too clear just how serious a throat/neck injury can be.

Yeah, it's a freak accident. But that doesn't mean it can't happen again.

After all, Steve Irwin wasn't the only one to ever take a stingray barb in the heart, either.

Stan Bunger said...

Right on, Laura: "it's a mom requirement". I can't imagine sending a goalie out there without full body armor!