Sports

Concussions impacting every level of hockey

 

Minor hockey players take the ice between periods at a Trojans Mens hockey game on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo by Andy Maxwell Mawji/The Weal)

Minor hockey players take the ice between periods at a Trojans Mens hockey game on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo by Andy Maxwell Mawji/The Weal)

Concussions have long been an issue in the sports world—and its ripple effect has made its way to Calgary minor hockey.

Over the past years, Hockey Calgary has made changes to its regulations in an effort to reduce the amount of concussions players sustain.

There have been new regulations and protocols, which were not in place as early as four years ago.

Bryan Gallinger played minor hockey for six years during a time where there were no concussion protocols for players.

“There were countless times where I or my teammates would get hit in the head, but just shake it off,” Gallinger said.

“You would want to keep playing even if you possibly had a concussion.

“It’s competitive instinct.”

Despite wanting to keep playing while having a concussion, Gallinger was not informed on the information about concussions as kids are today.

“I didn’t think they were that dangerous and my love for hockey wouldn’t let me miss a game or shift,” Gallinger said.

Gallinger experiences headaches and memory problems today due to playing through the concussions.

“Looking back, it would have been better to just sit out and get better instead,” Gallinger said.

He said it’s good to see the protocols being put into place now to prevent kids from going through what he
went through.

Another addition to the regulations is how bodychecking is only exclusive to higher-level divisions in an attempt to prevent head injuries.

Since the changes were made, bodychecking starts off in Bantam, which is the age group of 13-14 year olds.

In the past, players started bodychecking as young as 11 years old when they were in the age group of Pewee hockey.

Joshua O’Brien started playing hockey when hitting started in Peewee and views the change to be an unnecessary one.

“Hitting is a paramount part of hockey,” O’Brien said.

“It has always been and I hope it always will be because it adds to the game.”

In terms of hitting, O’Brien believes education is the number one key and in turn will lower the risk of concussions.

“Instead of taking hitting from lower divisions, players should be taught the proper way to hit and be hit,” said O’Brien.

“It will lower the concussion rate drastically without taking away a major portion of the game.”

Chris Rothery also played minor hockey and has kept a close eye on the changes, and now questions if some of the changes are necessary.

Rothery said he worries that player development is being harmed instead of helped with the hitting change.

“Player safety is important, but so is player development,” he said.

“Players in lower divisions are losing the chance to improve and expand their game.”

If he had a say in the matter, Rothery would find a medium between the new system and the one when he played.

“I would love to have everything the way it was, with that said, I would still want to keep the protocols and more education for players and parents,”
he said.

When players do come across a concussion the first step Rothery says is to always tell someone about it.

“Having to quit playing a sport you love because you ignored the symptoms isn’t the way to go,” Rothery said.

“Its better to tell someone early on then have it affect you later on in life.”

Minor hockey players take the ice between periods at a Trojans Mens hockey game on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo by Andy Maxwell Mawji/The Weal)

Minor hockey players take the ice between periods at a Trojans Mens hockey game on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo by Andy Maxwell Mawji/The Weal)

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