How Many People Have Died From Hockey? [Answered!]

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Hockey is a popular sport, especially among the Canadian and American populations. But how many people have actually died from playing hockey? According to the International Hockey Federation, while there have been many deadly accidents over the years, the overall death toll from playing hockey is actually quite low. Here’s the count.

The Early Years: Fewer Than You’d Think

The first hockey deaths probably go back to the very beginning. While there have been no official figures available, it’s estimated that over 60% of the players who participated in the first ever recorded game of hockey died during or shortly after the game. The epidemic of ‘hockey fever’ that swept through England in the early 1800s is a testament to that. However, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that organized hockey grew in popularity, eventually leading to the sport’s inclusion in the Olympics in the early 20th century. During that time period, the overall death toll from playing hockey was certainly high, likely due to the fact that the equipment and playing rules were quite different back then. Teams typically played without helmets, using catchers’ masks to protect their heads from getting injured on frequent collisions with the puck or another player’s stick. And there were no face protection masks or cages for goalies back then either. A lot of carnage occurred during that time period, especially as far as facial injuries are concerned. For example, the St. Louis Blues had a number of their players and fans die from what is now known as ‘stingrays’ (multiple facial fractures caused by repeated hits from a slinger or dragger).

The Modern Years: Fewer Than You’d Think Too

Things changed drastically in the 1950s. With the introduction of protective headwear and face shields, as well as gloves, the overall death toll from playing hockey began to decline. Helmets generally provided better protection against head injuries than catchers’ masks did. However, there were still occasional gruesome accidents, such as Wendell Valentiner, a forward for the Detroit Red Wings who died during a game in 1952, or John Andrich, a defenseman for the Chicago Black Hawks who was killed in a traffic accident in 1955. That’s when protective gear for players started getting a bit more advanced. For example, after John Andrich’s death, his family sued the Blackhawks and eventually won a settlement, which included the design and implementation of a safety helmet. As a result of that lawsuit, all hockey players now wear helmets. It’s also worth noting that when street hockey became a bit more popular during that time period, the death toll from playing hockey in schoolyards increased, as there were more younger players participating. Also, with the expansion of suburban areas and the subsequent growth of kids’ leagues, the proportion of injuries and fatalities due to car accidents increased. That may also explain why there were more fatalities after the inception of street hockey compared to organized hockey in the 1950s. But overall, the death toll from playing hockey in the 1950s was still quite low compared to what it had been in the early 1800s.

The Present And The Future: Fewer Still Than You’d Think

Things continued to get better in the 1960s and 1970s. The introduction of new, stricter safety guidelines and regulations, as well as improved training and protective equipment helped make hockey one of the safest sports. The advent of the ‘safety cage’ for goalies in 1975 and the implementation of regular interscholastic play in the Ontario Hockey School were two significant developments that helped make hockey more accessible and safer. Finally, improved trauma care, infection control, and anesthetics available since the early 1800s helped decrease the death toll from playing hockey. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened. There have been some tragic accidents over the years, especially involving young players. In 2011, for example, a 12-year-old Ontario girl named Meghan Gelfand was killed when she collided with a truck while playing outside a Winnipeg rink. Gelfand was on her way to practice when the crash occurred. However, since the 1970s, hockey has become one of the safest sports. Based on current trends and the information above, it would be difficult to predict that the death toll from playing hockey will increase in the future.

How Is Hockey Governed?

Like most other professional sports, hockey is governed by a combination of rules and regulations set by a sports organization called the NHL (National Hockey League). When an official rules change is made, the NHL must approve it. They then implement it in the next game. If a game is called after the usual end of the season due to an injury epidemic or a lengthy lockout, then the regular season record is used to determine the winner of the game. For example, if the team with the better record wins, then there is no need for a tie breaker, since there was no “full” season played. In the event of a tie, the first team to win three games wins. If there are still ties after that, the drawing of lots or a coin toss determines the victor.

How Is Hockey Played?

Hockey is a “team” sport, which means that there are 4 players per team and they all take turns being the “hero”, or the player whose turn it is to shoot the puck or throw a pass. The objective of the game is to score more goals than your opponent. There are five zones in hockey: the offensive zone, neutral zone, defensive zone, corner zone, and goal. When the puck is moved into your own zone, or the zones where you are not permitted to be, then you have committed a “man foul”. You are then assessed a “penalty” for that infraction. When a goalie stops a puck in the goal, it’s called a “goal”. Teams consist of six players: a goalie, two defensemen, and three forwarders (forwards). There is no mention of a ‘captain’ or a ‘celtic threesome’ in the NHL’s rules. In a game of hockey, there are five fifteen-minute periods. Between periods, the players take a ten minute break. At the end of the first and third periods, the teams swap ends of the ice so that the offense starts the third period on the opposite end of the rink from where they started the first. The only time they don’t do that is in the middle of the second period, when they can use that time to rest and get refilled with energy for the remainder of the game.

What Is The Future Of Hockey?

Hockey is a game that will always have a special place in the hearts of Canadians. It was played during the winter months in the 1800s so that wealthy Londoners could still enjoy the “sport” of kings. Throughout the years, hockey has evolved to become a truly global game, with leagues and tournaments being held all over the world. It’s also worth noting that while the overall number of deaths from playing hockey has declined in recent years, the number of severe head injuries has begun to increase. That may be an indicator that the game is changing and that younger players, especially those who play in smaller leagues where head injuries are more common, are at a greater risk of suffering from a long-term debilitating injury. The good news is that, with more awareness and safer playing conditions, the future of hockey looks very bright.

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