Thursday, June 10, 2010

Being a Hockey Player is Slightly Less Dangerous

In keeping with this week's theme of "Death in the Game", let's examine Hockey. In terms of spectator deaths, the NHL is tied with MLB at 1, but how do they match-up in terms of player deaths? Baseball has 2, again if you count Doc Powers. How many does hockey have?

Thankfully, just one with one other scarily closed call. Masterton had bounced around the minor leagues and retired in 1963. When Minnesota North Stars joined the league, he came out of retirement to play in their inaugural season and scored their first goal. Then on January 13, 1968 in a game in Minnesota against the Oakland Seals (Did you know there'd been an NHL team in Oakland? I didn't.) he was checked by two players at once and fell backwards hitting his head hard on the ice. He suffered a brain hemorrhage so massive, doctors couldn't even perform surgery, and he died two days later.

Helmets would not be mandatory until 1979, and even then just for new players entering the league.

The scary close call came on March 22, 1989 in a game between the Buffalo Sabres and the St. Louis Blues at Buffalo. Sabre's goalie Clint Malarchuk caught a skate to his throat which severed his interior carotid artery.

I will embed here one camera angle of the hit. Be warned, he bleeds a lot. I will also link to a second camera angle that's even more gruesome. You'll have to actually log into You Tube to watch it to verify that you're ok with mature content, it's that bad.

Malarchuk survived due to a series of very fortunate events and lucky circumstances. For one thing, doctors estimate had he been cut just 1/8 of an inch further up the artery, he would have been dead in 2 minutes or less. As it was, the first person on the scene had been a medic in Vietnam and knew exactly how to pinch the artery to slow the blood flow. In most NHL Hockey stadiums, the clubhouse entrance is in the middle of the ice between the benches. In the old stadium in Buffalo, it was located at one end of the ice behind the goalie. Fortunately for Malarchuk, he was covering the goal at the right end. Had he been on the opposite end and forced to cross the entire length of the ice to get to the clubhouse and treatment, he likely wouldn't have made it. As it was he spent one night in the hospital and was back in the net a week later.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.