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Accidents in hockey

Accidents in Hockey

Accidents can and do happen anywhere, anytime to anyone. This statement

is very true when dealing with a physical contact sport like hockey. There is a

certain amount of risk involved in playing any sport. When an injury occurs, it

inflicts tremendous hardship on the injured person, the team and the parents as

well. Hockey is a very popular and fun game to play (it is now considered

Canada's national sport, along with lacrosse) but it can also be very dangerous.

As players become better educated about hockey injuries and play by the rules

the game will be even more fun to play. This paper will discuss the importance

of common and catastrophic injuries, protective equipment, an indepth analysis

report, the role of a coach and personal related hockey injuries.


During the hockey season a person's body ends up getting bruised,

injured and banged around. A hockey injury report done by the International

Hockey Centre of Excellence has statistics on the most common hockey injuries

and how they occured. the most common injuries are to the shoulder, knee and

the head.

Injury to the shoulder is the most common hockey injury in the game

today because of the physcial contact. Of the injuries reported in the 1993-

1994 hockey season, 12% of those were shoulder related. Injury to the acromio-

clavicular joint was the most frequent because of the bodychecking. Every time

a player steps on the ice, he is constantly being pounded into the boards,

shoulder first. The glenohumeral was often being injuried mainly from fighting

and accidental contact. Hockey manufactures are constantly trying to improve

shoulder pads so this injury will not happen.

The knee followed closely behind the shoulder being injured 11% of the

time. A knee injury is very serious in hockey because it can end a player's

career. Knee injuries usually occur in the open ice area when a player is

cutting hard and is kneed or tripped by an opposing player. Accidentally

colliding with an opposing player or one of your own teamates, often ends in

knee related injuries. The medial collateral ligament was damaged in 80% of all

reported knee injuries, followed by the lateral collateral ligament 10% of the

time. The cruciate ligament and meniscal were injured 3% of the time.

Head injuries are the third most common type of hockey injury accounting

for 8% of all injuries. If you were to include facial injuries which would be a

combination of the head, teeth/mouth, jaw/chin and eye injuries they would

represent 26% of all reported injuries. A special analysis has been undertaken

by the Hockey Development Centre of Canada to better understand this problem.

The head is often driven into the boards awkwardly which leads to concussions.

NHL,OHL amd Junior A players are suffering head injuries because they do not

have to wear full face masks and are subject to stick infraction.


Catastrophic injury is any incident causing death or permanent long term

disability. Hockey played out of Ontario has seen a dramatic decrease in

catastrophic injuries. There were 26 such injuries in 1992 compared to 44 in

1989 and 79 in 1986. In the past, Ontario had represented almost half of (more

than 200) spinal injuries since 1976. The reduction of these numbers is due

from hockey executives who introduced a rule prohibiting checking from behind in

the 1985 season. A report done by Glen Mccurdie (manager of the health benifts

for the CHA) told of nine Canadian players who suffered broken necks, with three

reslting in quadriplegia. In the 1992 season four players suffered broken necks,

two were classed as unavoidable because they involved players losing their

balance and falling into the boards.

Finally, league and executive members are beginning to crack down on

people who hit from behind and cause catastrophic injuries. On December 6, 1994,

OHL commissioner David Branch suspended Steve McLaren for the entire season

after he ran Ottawa 67's Jure Kovacevic from behind. Kovacevic sustained a

broken vertebrae and cracked ribs when hit into the boards. Kovacevic is still

recovering from the injury even though he was not paralyzed. Almost six years

ago another Ottawa player, Grant Marshall was hit from behind by Jason Young

and broke his neck. Young was also suspended for the year. Marshall, luckly

was able to return after a long term therapy and was drafted first round to the

Toronto Maple Leafs the next year.

Checking from behind is a very serious matter and it comprised 11.13% of

all reports filed. Checking from behind is found most frequent in the Bantam

(34.73%) and Midget (23.62%) age groups. Players at this age are just beginning

to incorporate hitting into their game. Many children are not properly taught

the basics of hitting in their peewee years and because of this they develop bad

checking habits, and this is were checking from behind comes into play. To make

hockey a safer game to play, hitting from behind must be put to a complete.

Parents, coaches, fans and players have to become better educated for this to



Having the right protective equipment when playing hockey is so very

important because of the physical contact. Every year players are receiving

serious injuries because they have the wrong hockey equipment. Unnecessary

injury can reult from incorrectly fitted equipment. All hockey players should

have and learn how to tell if their equipment is properly protecting them.

SKATES- Should provide protection for the entire foot and the ankle area

(achilles tendon). Your feet should fit with your toes just

barely touching the front of your skate.

SHIN PADS- Must be properly postioned at the knees for full flexibility and

extend just to the skate top. The shin pads should not roll off

your knee at any time in a game. They should also be

protective enough to with-stand a hard shot or slash.

ATHLETIC SUPPORT- Should be fitted comfortably, according to waist

size. A proper cup must be worn at all times.

HOCKEY PANTS- The short pants (tackula) should be about six inches

larger than the player's waist size to give extra protection and

flexibilty. Always check to make sure that all the padding is

in the right place and does not fall out.

GLOVES- Must be snug but not to tight and should over-lap your elbow

pad to protect your forearm. Players should be using full

wrist cuffs instead of the short cuffs because they give you

the extra protection you need around your wrists.

ELBOW PADS- The elbow joint should rest firmly in the cup. The elastics

or velcro should feel snug and tight. For more upper arm

protection, your elbow pads should be long enough to be

overlapped by your shoulder pads. Make sure your elbow

pads have a good slash guard as well.

SHOULDER PADS- Be sure the shoulder cap rests squarely on the top of

your shoulder. Adjustment straps should always be snug

and tight. At contact levels, your pads should be strong

enough to give and receive hard checks. New shoulder

restraints are built into the pad and are now being used to

stop shoulder injuries.

HELMETS- Only properly fitted, correctly adjusted Canadian

Standards Association (CSA) certified helmets can be used.

The reason so many head injuries occur in hockey is because

of improper hockey helmets.


The following section will give you a more indepth analysis about hockey

injuries. Aspects like, where players are most commonly being on the ice,

number of injuries per period, injuries by position, number of injuries by

assessment and finally the time loss due to injuries will be discussed.

NUMBER OF INJURIES BY ZONES- This shows where players were most commonly

injuried when they were playing hockey. This is a combination of being injuried

with board and no board contact.

As shown, a great majority of players are being injuried in zone 4 (23%),

zone 5 (19%) and also zone 6 (19%). These three zones all exist in the centre

of the ice, telling people that players are receiving most of their injuries in

the neutral ice area.

ZONE OF INJURY BOARD CONTACT- Board contact occured most often in zone 6 (22.5%),

zone 4 (20%), Zone 9 (17%) in the attacking corner and zone 1 (12%) in the

defending corner. This happened becuase most of the board contact occurs inside

the blue line and the corners.

ZONE OF INJURY NO BOARD CONTACT- Injuries where boards were not a factor occured

in zone 4 (25%), zone 5 (22%), zone 6 (16%) and zone 7 (11%). All of these

zones occur right in the middle of the ice.

NUMBER OF INJURIES BY PERIOD- By periods, injury rates occur during the second

period at 41%. Injuries in the third period occurred 37% while injuries in the

first occured 21% of the time. There have been no injuries reported during the

warm ups and only 1% occurred in overtime.

INJURIES BY POSTION- By position, wingers are the most commonly injuried at 42%

because of hard forechecking and tough defence you need to play on the wing.

Wingers are always skating up and down the boards every game and are constantly

being hit into them more then any other players. Defencemen were a close second

at 37% because the defence are constantly skating back into their own end

chasing the puck and being hit into the end boards all game long. This is where

most of these injuries occurred. Centres sustained 17% because they mostly stay

in the neutral parts of the ice and are not involved in most of the physical

activity in the corners.

NUMBER OF INJURIES BY ASSESSMENT- The most common type of injury in hockey is

from contusions, at 24% because of the puck and the stick use. Sprains then

followed at 19% and then strains at 18%. with these just being minor injuries to


TIME LOSS DUE TO INJURY- Time loss due to injury states how long it took a

player to recover from an injury and return to action. 38% of those athletes

injuried playing hockey were out for less than a week while 36% returned the

same day. Those out for less than three weeks contributed to 18% while 9% of

injured players were out more than three weeks. Injuries which required more

than three weeks recovery were to the shoulder, knee, head and forearms.


The role of the coach is a very important one when dealing with children

and young adults playing hockey. The coach must support his/her players and

make hockey the fun game it was meant to be.

What is a coach? A coach is a person who is willing to give up his/her

free time and energy to help make a team that much better. As a coach, it is

also your responsibiblity to give your players an environment that provides them

with maximum enjoyment and safety. Injury prevention is a vey serious matter

when playing hockey. This begins with making sure your players have the proper

equipment and knowledge of how to play the game. A coach should always begin a

game and practice with a series of stretches and warm up exercises that will

cut down on injuries. Coaches should remember that injuries to players can and

will continue to bother them throughout adulthood of not handled correctly.

They should do all they can to make sure that their players are kept injury

free so it will not affect them for the rest of their insightful careers.


I have been playing hockey for sixteen years now and I have suffered two

major injuries during this time period. I fractured my clavicle when I was hit

a meter away from the boards. It happened in my major peewee year when I was

twelve years old and it put me out of hockey for almost eight weeks. After my

shoulder it took me a long time to get my confidence back and at first I was

afraid to go into the corners. The main reason why my clavicle was fractured

was because my shoulder pads were not the most protective piece of equipment

compared to other brands.

Two years later in major bantam, I fractured my ulna and raduis bone

after being hit from behind the opposition's net. My arm required closed

reduction surgery and I was in a cast for two month and out of hockey for three

months. Having better equipment could not have helped me in this situation.

When a person is hit from behind, unfortunately the top brand equipment will not

be able to withstand the hit and a serious injury usaully occurs. Hockey would

be a better game if all hitting from behind was somehow eliminated.


Since hockey is a physical contact sport, injuries are bound to happen.

Federations like Hockey Development Canada are routinely doing studies analyzing

different factors of hockey injuries so that in the future they can make

recommendations on how to eliminate these. We can make hockey an even better

game to play if all players would be aware of each other and cut down on cheap


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