West Coast Rink Rants
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The funeral of 21 year old Don Sanderson was today.

Sanderson played in a small, senior league that comprised of six teams throughout the province of Ontario.

He was not a can't miss NHL prospect and the League he played in does not churn out NHL level hockey players in droves.

That does not matter.

Sanderson passed away last Friday after being in a coma for three weeks after hitting his head on the ice at the end of a fight. He lost his helmet in the midst of the tussle, both he and the young man he was fighting fell to the ice, as do many who are involved in hockey scraps, and Sanderson took the brunt of the fall.

It was an accident.

The world lost an exceptional young man who attended York University, instructed skating lessons for youngsters in his hometown of Point Perry, Ontario and he even found time to assist his father, Mike, in coaching the Bellville Bearcats girls youth hockey team.

I have two young sons and if they are doing anything close to what Sanderson was doing at the age of 21, I will be proud and know that I raised them properly. It aches my heart to know that he passed at an age where he was just breaking out and hitting his stride in life as an adult.

I would really like to extend the idea of anyone who takes the time to read this to say a prayer for the Sanderson family with the hope of providing them with some kind of solace in this earth shattering time in their lives.

 

The fight of the night feature will return tomorrow, I just felt that honoring Sanderson was far more important then doing the daily routine.

I think it is unfortunate that the incident occurred during a fight, but I do think that the potential for permanent injury over the duration of a hockey game comes in many different forms.

A standard slap shot can produce a hard flying puck that has no eyes and certainly does not change direction at the last second when a chest or throat come in its line of progress.

A few years ago, Anaheim Mighty Duck defenseman, Chris Pronger was struck in the chest with a shot puck that resulted in a cardiac arrest.

Luckily, he lived, but his heart stopped beating for a few moments and it is hard to gauge how close he was to death.

You should also look at how sharp the blade of an ice skate is and how fast and free wheeling the game moves. It is inevitable that the skate of a player will fling into the air and come close to the neck area of another player.

The most publicized incident of this occurred when Buffalo Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk was accidentally clipped in the jugular vein and nearly died. The same incident occurred last February when the Florida Panthers Richard Zednik was sliced in the neck and had his carotid artery severed.

Though both instances were life threatening, both men survived, the worst of this rare on-ice misfortune came in 1995, in Sweden, when Bengt Akerblom died due to massive blood loss on the ice after having an errant skate get him in throat. He was 28.

The brutality of the physical aspect of the game is also something that can cause serious injury. When a player gets caught between the unforgiving boards and a 225 pound well tuned athlete, the impact is tremendous, the same can be said with a clean open ice hit.

We're not even talking about dirty elbows or checks from behind, just a standard hockey hit.

Hockey is a graceful, beautiful game that evokes moments of extreme physicality at high speeds that can leave a player venerable to injury every time that player steps on the ice.

You can take the word hockey out of that last sentence and replace it with any sport you can think of that involves overly physical elements and it will still ring true.

 

-MB

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