Are Hockey Players in the NHL Adequately Protected From Injury?

Ryan Haynes, Managing Editor

         The game of hockey is a grueling game that takes serious guts to play. Losing teeth, fractured facial bones, and concussions are part of the job, but how can it not be part of it? Career ending injuries and life threatening situations are possible for any player out there on the ice, so why doesn’t the NHL make it safer? It is undeniable that hockey is a tough, and dangerous game. However there are many safety precautions that are not taken into hand by the NHL. The numbers of injuries have increased over the past years, yet the NHL has taken no steps to improve the safety of their players.

          If you have ever seen an NHL game on TV you would think that the amount of protection provided for the players is sufficient. However there is actually a great lack of protection provided for the players, especially in the facial area. This is obviously a problem as the protection is not adequate for the athletes to safely play. The face is the most important part for every human being, not only an athlete. An athlete needs his or hers eyes, ears, and mouth to function properly to be able to play at one’s full ability.

          It is required by the NHL rulebook that all skaters must wear a helmet. Some players choose to wear visors for protection from snow, however over the years visors’ in multiple instances have protected a player from taking a puck in the eyes. These special cases give hope to players that there is some safety in modern day hockey.      There are many many players in the NHL that have come extremely close to permanent injuries. In 2008, an NHL player had a skate blade cut him in the neck during a game. He was immediately rushed to the hospital as his life was in danger.  In the NHL today players are fully protected from chest to toe, however the face is susceptible to damage  and especially the neck. It is required that players in the NHL wear a helmet which helps prevents concussions but does not protect the player in the face. Broken noses, loss of teeth, and black eyes are among the most common injuries in the NHL. Getting stitches between periods and going right back out on the ice is not uncommon at all.  During a game with the San Jose Sharks, Kris Draper took a puck in the face. The gash on his cheek required 15 stitches. Players take puck’s to the eyes,nose, ears, and mouth;then they get stitched up and then are ready to go back out.  The most dangerous spot for players however is the neck. Multiple times over the last 20 years there have been players rushed to the ER from taking skate blades in the neck.


           The NHL is the focal point of ice hockey yet they lack the most protection; setting a unsafe example for kids and youth leagues to follow. The question is, do NHL players feel unsafe and want safety improvements? The NHL front office has done practically nothing for the advancement of safety. However even with all of these safety threats the NHL still plays on today and will for a very long time, but at some point, likely soon, the NHL will make a vast improvement for their players, so their players can live a long, healthy career.