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Weekend Warriors and Jr. NHLers: Keep Your Heads Up!

April 19th, 2011 | by admin admin | in Safety Advice |    0   comments

So…What did you think of Canucks forward Raffi Torres’ hit on Brent Seabrook in Game 3? Clean? Suspension worthy? Most local radio show callers – ie passionate Canucks fans – argue the Chicago Blackhawks defenceman should have been paying attention behind the net and Torres is being tried on his reputation alone.

Whatever your view, one thing is for sure: You don’t want to be a Torres or Seabrook. Or worse yet, Max Pacioretty, the Montreal Canadiens forward who suffered a severe concussion and fractured spine following a body check at the end of the regular season. No one wants to suffer serious injury, or cause any, while playing hockey.

In the words of CBC broadcaster Don Cherry, “Keep your heads up, kids.” A researcher from Dalhousie University, Syd Johnson, goes further, arguing that body checking should be eliminated from youth hockey altogether, except at elite levels for players over 15.

ThinkFirst, an organization dedicated to preventing brain and spinal cord injuries, offers good safety advice for playing ice hockey. Prevention tips include wearing appropriate [CSA-approved] safety gear, such as:

  • A helmet that fits snugly -- no more than one finger’s breadth between your chin and the strap
  • Full face mask
  • Mouth guard

ThinkFirst argues coaches, leagues, referees and parents need to eliminate hits from behind and to the head.

While this advice is designed to protect children, it applies equally well to your local beer league. You don’t need to pump up your speed or leave the ice when you deliver a check. And you should keep your head up when you have the puck near the boards.

Hockey players of all ages also need to keep fit. Proper and regular conditioning will prevent many common muscle injuries. Focus on strengthening your neck muscles. Weekend warriors, in particular, need good cardio conditioning. Far too many beer leaguers suffer heart attacks when they charge around the ice after a week or two of armchair hockey.

Share your thoughts below on the Torres hit, body checking in kids’ hockey or anything related to hockey safety.

Author: Susanna Chu

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