Statement: One Puck to the Head Is One Too Many

Stingers Should Appreciate Their Fans By Ensuring Their Safety

Graphic Carl Bindman

Concordia students deserve to feel safe on campus. That is no question.

So when one of our own, The Link’s Coordinating Editor Tristan D’Amours, had to be taken to the hospital after being hit in the head by a puck that cleared the glass during a men’s playoff hockey game on March 2, we couldn’t help but wonder whether Concordia feels the same. Especially considering there is protective netting installed at Ed Meagher Arena, where the incident took place—protective netting that was installed but not put to use.

Immediately after Tristan was taken away, we approached Concordia’s Director of Recreation and Athletics D’Arcy Ryan to ask why that was the case. His response was lackluster: The nets interfere with fan visibility, but they’ll look into it.

A week later at the annual fan appreciation game—the last Stingers home game of the season—we had yet to see any change. Apparently one person getting hit in the head isn’t enough for the Stingers to reconsider their priorities: fan visibility or fan safety.

We also must acknowledge that what happened could have been much worse. Tristan escaped with a headache and a cut above his right ear. Had he not been looking down, writing the recap that was set to be published right after the game, and had the puck hit a different part of his head, or one of the many children in the crowd, things could’ve been much worse—even fatal.

To have the safety net rolled up at any game is negligence, but the fact that this was a key game played before a packed arena in a historic playoff makes it even worse. The stands were full to the point of fans standing at every corner and edge of the arena. Pressure was so high for the players that there were a few pucks that went out of bounds, pucks travelling at high speeds, and though only one of these hit a person, it’s still one too many.

It’s not like it’s unheard of for a person to be killed or seriously injured by a puck. This needs to be taken seriously.

Over the years, more safety precautions have been taken across hockey leagues to increase spectator safety. In 2002, when a 13-year-old fan died shortly after being struck by a puck at a National Hockey League game, new rules were put in place. Protective netting was put up in areas where fans were vulnerable. They’ve been there ever since.

At the time, league commissioner Gary Bettman said that “after three minutes, people won’t know [the netting] is there.”

More than 15 years later, the fan experience hasn’t been ruined by the safety nets. People still flock to NHL arenas, perhaps feeling just a little bit safer and enjoying the game just as much.

We at The Link feel that Concordia needs to step up and protect their fans. This type of negligence is inexcusable. One puck to the head is one puck too many, and action should have been taken to prevent another similar incident right away. And yet, here we are more than one week later, still waiting.