To those who believe the sudden deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and now Wade Belak are only a mere morbid coincidence, you can stop reading. Those who think it is time to raise questions and not turn away, please continue.
This past Monday night I participated in a podcast with Chris Block from the Third Man In. Before the show Chris sent me a few audio clips which were from recent interviews done at the Fan 590 in Toronto. The interviews with former NHL players Dave Scatchard and current Montreal Canadien, Mike Cammalleri are a must listen.
As far as I know the two interviews have not received much attention thus far and that is troubling, but not shocking. It is always easier to look away rather than face a potential uncomfortable situation.
In many ways the NHL is flourishing. Hockey is more entertaining than ever and the league finally has a national TV contract worth mentioning. Maybe everyone is too comfortable to quickly address the need for an enhanced drug testing program. Concussion concerns are part of the problem but not the entire issue.
As hockey fans we want to be entertained. Sports fans in general focus more on wins and losses. Maybe that’s why the interviews which were done over a week ago have not received much attention, at least not here in the States.
Sometimes glaring issues which should be noticed are seemingly ignored.
Did anyone really believe Sammy Sossa naturally morphed into a hulk that could destroy a baseball?
Did anyone find it odd as Barry Bonds raced after Hank Aaron’s homerun record his head seemingly grew to the size of a basketball?
In my view it is not a tragic coincidence there was a drug related death and apparently two suicides this summer which claimed the lives of young men who played in the NHL. I’m not sure what specific actions need to be taken but this is not the time for anyone to bury their head in the sand.
Cammalleri gave a strikingly candid interview on the Fan 590….Interview_Michael-Cammalleri-jv-20110825
He remarked the hockey lifestyle can lead to a cycle of drug dependency. Cammalleri wasn’t talking about cocaine or recreational drug use. He was focused on the use of uppers and downers to get a player ready to perform, pills which are easily accessible.
In my view the apparent abuse of oxycodone by Boogaard can also be lumped into a players attempt to quickly return to the ice. A quick fix may come from a bottle but over time the drugs cause much more harm than good.
Sometimes it easy to ignore the obvious and in the big money world of professional sports the pressure to perform is an undeniable influence.
Hockey players, like no other athlete are hardwired to compete and continue to play even when their health is in question. It would not be a stretch to say a NHL player is more at risk to compromise his well- being than others in professional sports. By their very nature a hockey player is all about the team.
In the Scatchard interview he comments about being able to game the system to quickly return from a concussion. Scatchard admitted he gave the necessary answers to test questions but not always the correct replies.
Not to point a finger at team physicians but they have a familiarity with their own player. Maybe it is more unlikely to get an honest answer from one of their own. It appears a team physician could be caught in a compromising situation.
Fortunately, Scatchard was convinced recently his professional hockey career was over due to head injuries. His interview is worth the time for any concerned hockey fan. Scatchard biggest concern these days is to be able to function normally as a father of three young children.
Here is the link for Monday night’s podcast….2011_Aug29_TTMIRadio_e87_AlCimaglia_UppersDowners…We did chime in with some meaningful Hawk talk as well.
Chris shares some pointed views about the current drug policy. I mentioned it would be better to have a doctor employed by the NHL to conduct tests on concussed players. In any event the checks and balances need to be enhanced in both areas.
It is so much easier to be entertained than concerned.
But now is not the time to look away.
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