Being from Canada, I am naturally a big Hockey fan. Like most, I was first exposed to the sport as a child and remember the other kids talking about, and cheering for their favorite teams. Unfortunately, my Mother being from England sent me to school in a Flyers jacket. The problem was you see, that I was born and raised in Southern Ontario, home of the beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. Of course I took some ribbing through the years, but I want you to know, that I’m still a loyal Flyers fan. I’ve always been a fan of Hockey’s physicality, as I have been a Broad Street Bully fan some 40 years.
I think we can all remember certain stars falling to career ending injuries before our very eyes. Concussions’ happening in the world of contact sports is inevitable. Take Sidney Crosby for example. To try to discount the possibility of concussions in the World of Sports is naive. We’ve had enough talk and studies about this subject, and now is the time for action.
As I have noted my age, I’m sure you can realize that I have seen my fair share of players having to leave the game, but only recently due to concussions. In the greater part of the 70’s and 80’s, the medical field as not as well informed about concussions as they are today, and I mainly remember numerous shoulder or “upper body” injuries that might have been concussions in all reality. We can see the resistance from some in the NHL, more notably the Head Coach of the Maple Leafs, Randy Carlyle, who believes a lot of players are having these issues due to the equipment. The opinions of those such as Coach Carlyle are being swept under the carpet. I honestly do not remember the rash of shoulder and elbow injuries that would warrant such body armor, or as I like to call it, weaponry.
The sticks and equipment for the most part have evolved, but nothing has become more dangerous to the game than the way that shoulder and elbow pads are being worn. Do we really know what is being worn under players’ jerseys these days? Goalies already have their equipment measured by the NHL, but the same does not go for the other players on the ice. In an age of no accountability, it is important that before they even lace up the skates, these players know the damage that could be caused. So please do not try to tell me about “innocent hits” or “the particular way you caught a player” and feel absolved.
In Boxing and the UFC, athletes are inspected for illegal objects and/or equipment, before they’re allowed to enter the ring. After their events take place, the fighters are asked to submit their gloves for inspection because in this day in age, there is no code of conduct or ethics. We would have never come across “loaded” boxing gloves if there wasn’t a need for regulation and I believe the same circumstances should happen in hockey, especially for defensive players. What was wrong with the older shoulder pads, that protected a player, and never had an epidemic of shoulder injuries to require titanium steel anything. Take the armor and weapons off these goons ASAP!
I challenge Gary Bettman and Brendan Shanahan to discuss this with me at their convenience. I will be forwarding this to the NHL headquarters, and as many Hockey related media outlets as I possibly can. I will also continue my campaign until this is addressed. Enough is enough; all players should be inspected before they enter the field of battle.