Samuel Getachew: When I was in Ethiopia visiting my family members a year ago - because most knew I am from Canada, they kept asking me about hockey yet they also asked - "why do most Canadians like to fight". So the question is - hockey is becoming a sport less attractive for Canada's reputation abroad and for our new Canadians here in Canada. What should I tell them if they were to ask me once again when I visit Ethiopia in a month and to the new Canadians here in Toronto? Should we just avoid young children from watching hockey all together for the potential violence we often witness when ever we watch the game?
Ken Dryden: Thanks, Samuel. That's the good hard question. I'm not sure you can tell them anything different from what you have told them before - now. But that is why we and lots of others are having this kind of conversation. Hockey can change. Hockey has always changed. As long as there's ice and skates and players to compete, it will be great and exciting. Players will adapt and find other ways to compete just as hard. That's what they've always done. The key is make hockey all those things, and smart too.
Maurice: Ken, having only lived in Canada a few years I observe this issue with interest. I have seen other physical sports in the world deal with major problems like this and it is never easy to convince the 'establishment' that runs the game that change is required. Hockey is a great game that is being ruined by the 'hard-man' culture that tolerates this reckless kind of physicality. The game can still be physical without being violent. The fans and other interests have the power to demand change.
Ken Dryden: Thanks, Maurice. You're right. Football has a huge on-going problem. Does anyone think for a moment that its players, their agents, their families (especially their wives and partners), and lawyers aren't focused on this? Absolutely they are. And the lawsuits and fights in the future are going to be so much greater and costly. It's the same for hockey. This is NOT a problem that is going away. It will only be far greater. So, NOW is the time.
desinitelife: How do you feel about Don Cherry's comments on Saturday during HNIC?
Ken Dryden: Thanks, desiinitelife, but I didn't see them or hear about them.
Dr Kenneth Bocking: Ken, I am a retired General Surgeon in St Thomas,Ont.I coached and was team Dr on a competitive hockey team for about 10 years.My son played with Joe Thornton on that team until Joe went on to Jr A.My son sufferred 2 concussions playing Jr B hckey for St. Thomas.Both were caused by blind sided hits to the head where no penalty was called.After his 2nd hit he had post concussion syndrome for 2 or3 months.He was in University and this was probably one of the most stressfull times of our lives.I called Brent Ladds,President of the OHA and he sat down with myself and Dr.Pat Bishop rom Waterloo and we decided thier neede to be a Head Checking Penalty in the OHA as severe as the one for checking from behind.This passed and a Head Checking penalty was added to the rules for the OHA and then shortly after The CHA and University hockey adopted it.I took my concerns to Colin Campbell at that time and got absolutely nowhere.This is 12 years ago.I do not think we have all been stupid about the damage that head checks can cause but certainly the NHL and NHLPA were aware of our concerns 12 years ago.I find it laughable that it has taken 10 or 12 years for the Powers that be in the NHL to finally ecocognize there is a problem and it is not going to just go away on its own.Not all of us were stupid but the decision makers in the NHL were .
Ken Dryden: Thanks, Dr. Bocking. I'm sorry this has been your son's experience. Sometimes, people are just not ready to listen or do something. It's the same for all of us. The key is to leap on the moment when it presents itself. As you know, this isn't about the Pacioretty hit. Even in my case, I had written all of the article before that moment. In many ways, the Pacioretty hit is one of the least good examples because it seems to me less about the hit itself and more about the arena structures. It's all the others. But this hit has given attention to something that, as you say, could have had attention long before. It is time to make the most of the moment. And for the NHL and its GMs etc, to know, to absolutely know, that this is a problem to the game as it now is, and these incidents will happen again and again - with all the damage that does to people and a game - if something isn't done.