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Archive for June 7, 2007

June 7, 2007 — Inside the Journal of Athletic Training, part 4: Men’s ice hockey

Fourth of 14 parts.

Today’s installment looks at injuries in men’s ice hockey, a sport which, in the NCAA, has combined some of the tendencies the last two college sports this blog examined: football (collisions which have led to neck injuries and paralysis the last two decades) and men’s basketball (the top levels of talent have been skimmed off the top by professional leagues).

Men’s ice hockey

Main results: The rate of injuries in the sport, over the reporting period, is eight times greater in games than in practices. Player-to-player contact is the most frequent of game injuries, while “other contact” injuries with pucks, sticks, the boards, and the goal cage is not far behind.

Recommendations: Rule changes that limit all contact in the neutral zone and the areas inside the blue lines.

What the study directors missed: It isn’t until the commentary section where a discussion of the international-sized ice surface (which is significantly wider than that used in North America) is found. It should have been a recommendation.

What the study directors underreported: Neck and spinal injuries. These were not covered in the narrative whatsoever. The same goes for how stick-contact injuries have changed with the advent of space-aged hockey sticks.

Equipment recommendations made: None.

Equipment recommendations not made: Making the shell of the helmet bigger and adding more padding inside.

Also, in this particular Journal of Athletic Training report, there is an explicit acknowledgment of market forces in the sport. This phrase was used: “A rule change limiting open-ice checking is another plausible mechanism for reducing player-to-player contact but would change the came drastically and likely reduce the appeal of hockey for many spectators.”

If the levels of injury are so high and so drastic, and if injuries in the neutral zone extended are preventable, then a recommendation should have been made in this regard. To not do so is unprofessional.