|(above) Montreal Canadiens player Max Pacioretty suffered a horrific injury last week in an NHL game|
(left) Terry Martin wrote an article in the Edmonton Journal today about a subject he is all too familiar with, vertebae injuries in ice hockey
From: Edmonton Journal
by Terry Martin
My son Jesse played hockey against Max Pacioretty in the United States Hockey League (USHL) a few years ago - we thought he was a terrific hockey player then, and a better one since turning pro.
I nearly collapsed watching him get hit by Zdeno Chara. I'm praying for his recovery.
It was late October when Jesse received a hit to the head while playing hockey for the University of Denver. The result was vertebra fractures and a spinal-cord injury. Doctors said he came within two millimetres of dying. We have since learned that only two per cent of those suffering such injuries survive, and if they do, the outcome is usually paralysis of the entire body below the neck, or death within a couple of years due to respiratory challenges.
The game of hockey is not slowing down, nor should it.
But as horrific as it sounds, and despite those who tritely suggest "our game is a dangerous one, always has been, and always will be," we are on our way to witnessing someone getting killed.
It is wrong to suggest that the integrity of the sport, or its entertainment value, will be compromised by creating reasonable and sensible rules, implemented with consistency, commitment and genuine concern for protecting players, our sons, brothers and nephews -not stats -from having their lives irrevocably changed from playing a game they love.
According to Associated Press sports writer Chris Jenkins, the death of Dale Earnhardt of NASCAR "was the wake-up call that caused a safety revolution . it was a major change for a sport that had been at the back of the pack when it came to driver safety."
And, just like NASCAR, those who decide what happens in hockey have the means to improve safety and reduce injuries significantly -today.
Unfortunately those same decisionmakers lack the desire, and the will, to act responsibly. And therein lies the tragedy -we not only have the means, but also the opportunity.
Who then among us should be surprised to learn of an all-too sudden death, over time, in hockey. Could Gary Bettman live with that tragedy?
It seems he could.