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Hockey deaths raise questions


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http://www.cnn.com/2011/SPORT/09/01/nhl.enforcers.deaths/index.html?&hpt=hp_c2

"I did it because it was my job but I hated it," said Georges Laraque, one of the most successful hockey heavyweights in his 12-year NHL career. "I hated to fight. I hated the pressure. I hated to be called a goon, and an animal. I hated promoting violence."

The worst part is not the fighting itself, he said, because the adrenaline kicks in and you don't feel the blows. Instead, what weighs heaviest is the constant pressure of knowing you will have to fight another enforcer such as Boogaard or Belak, game after game, according to Laraque.

"It's the night before, the day of the game, before it starts," he said. "It's the shivers that it gives you, the worry in the head and the brain. It's when you go to a movie and you can't watch it because you're thinking the next game about having to fight Derek Boogaard or someone like that. Or you don't feel well, but something happens and you have to go out there. ... It's that pressure that's nonstop that you live with."

Very interesting stuff with a lot of good insight from Laraque (who goes on to defend fighting's role in hockey later in the article).

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Its good that a former fighter and player came forward to tell his side of the story. I hope this doesnt continue and more guys take their lives. There needs to be work done with the players and programs that can bring them both together if they need to talk or see a professional. Its so easy to hide whats going on in your head and "put on a happy face" but its when you are alone that your thoughts can get the best of you, in these cases, your life.

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It's very sad to say the least. It's true though, they get paid very little (compared to their top scoring colleges), get most of the physical abuse, and aren't as appreciated as the other players on the team. I hope Belak's death was the last one because it is truly sad to see enforcers dropping like flies.

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Excellent -- now Let's hope the Writers Guild gets on the stick with all that drinking authors do. Some publishing house needs to step up to the plate here.

Hollywood and her unions have to start DOING SOMETHINGS about all those suicides of budding young actors and actresses cut down in the prime of life. I think we need to make celebrity in general something easily attainable for all... I don't think Reality TV has taken it far enough because this seems to just give people a false sense of entitlement and they still crash just as hard when people stop paying attention to them...

well at least Bettman and crew are taking this tough problem on...

PEOPLE -- do you all ascribe to the "everyone is a winner" philosophy people are teachign now too? Frankly I think that's part of the problem causing this stuff. WE'RE PEOPLE --- WITH DISABILITIES IN EVERY WALK OF LIFE. I'd love to headshake and tongue cluck and all that sh!t with you all but let's gain some real perspective here. I have had two friends take their lives in the past year. It's part of who they are... you know...

anyhow -- I suppose I should read the article :evil: I am just getting a little concerned at the prevailing attitude here. This is not some condition isolated in sports and all. People make choices. They make them for reasons. Some can handle some things others can't --- it's just LIFE. whatever.... everyone and all of society is FUBAR... I just can't care about every small iota particularly when people bring this sh!t on themselves. YES YOU CAN WALK AWAY. STUPID PEOPLE DIE!!!!! I dont fine Darwin awards funny.... but facts are facts!!! Sorry if that seems insensitive or offensive -- I'm just getting annoyed. Do people just not pay attention to life as it passes them by? Are so called normal people with normal careers and aspirations who do sh!t like this just fvcked up? whatever... so irritating.

Edited by Pepperkorn
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PK -

I agree with you in principle, but in my opinion these days fighting is really such a tangential part of the game. It really seems unnecessary to me at this point, as 95% of all fights are just between two guys who play 5 minutes a night and do almost nothing else well. It seems like a waste of a roster spot and I have no problem with the league penalizing fighting even more severely to take it out of the game.

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Excellent -- now Let's hope the Writers Guild gets on the stick with all that drinking authors do. Some publishing house needs to step up to the plate here.

Hollywood and her unions have to start DOING SOMETHINGS about all those suicides of budding young actors and actresses cut down in the prime of life. I think we need to make celebrity in general something easily attainable for all... I don't think Reality TV has taken it far enough because this seems to just give people a false sense of entitlement and they still crash just as hard when people stop paying attention to them...

well at least Bettman and crew are taking this tough problem on...

PEOPLE -- do you all ascribe to the "everyone is a winner" philosophy people are teachign now too? Frankly I think that's part of the problem causing this stuff. WE'RE PEOPLE --- WITH DISABILITIES IN EVERY WALK OF LIFE. I'd love to headshake and tongue cluck and all that sh!t with you all but let's gain some real perspective here. I have had two friends take their lives in the past year. It's part of who they are... you know...

anyhow -- I suppose I should read the article :evil: I am just getting a little concerned at the prevailing attitude here. This is not some condition isolated in sports and all. People make choices. They make them for reasons. Some can handle some things others can't --- it's just LIFE. whatever.... everyone and all of society is FUBAR... I just can't care about every small iota particularly when people bring this sh!t on themselves. YES YOU CAN WALK AWAY. STUPID PEOPLE DIE!!!!! I dont fine Darwin awards funny.... but facts are facts!!! Sorry if that seems insensitive or offensive -- I'm just getting annoyed. Do people just not pay attention to life as it passes them by? Are so called normal people with normal careers and aspirations who do sh!t like this just fvcked up? whatever... so irritating.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rIPe5akN48

Read that and thought of this. I really agree with what Carlin is saying here. Its really true.

Because it is Carlin it automatically gets a NSFW.

Edited by Quinn01
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I love watching fights, and I used to support fighting, but too many fighters are dying. There is too much evidence that shots to the head cause long term damage for this to be allowed. If the game has to change, so be it. I'll miss fighting, but I miss Boogard, Belak and the rest more.

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I love watching fights, and I used to support fighting, but too many fighters are dying. There is too much evidence that shots to the head cause long term damage for this to be allowed. If the game has to change, so be it. I'll miss fighting, but I miss Boogard, Belak and the rest more.

The thing that has me wondering if maybe it's just a coincidence is why is this all happening now and not in the past, and why doesn't boxing or MMA have the same problem?

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These recent deaths will no doubt cause changes in the NHL. However, I am not convinced that the cause and effect is simply being an NHL enforcer. As others have said, the psychological trauma of suddenly losing your occupation, livelihood, ego persona and personal identity at such an early age certainly looms large. Throw in alcohol abuse and suddenly being unceremoniously ripped from your network of friends and co-workers and the mental trauma is obvious.

I also question just how much serious head trauma these NHL fighters really suffer. While they are no doubt tough guys and fight on a regular basis, most of it is jersey tugging and hitting helmets with their fists, usually the head shots are glancing blows. On the rare occasion that they land a direct hit to the head or jaw...the fight ends immediately and both combatants skate away. They are not boxers taking sustained hits to their head. If they have been suffering repeated head trauma during these fights, where is the NHLPA to stand up for their contractual rights re: concussions? ( Are fighters examined and checked for a concussion after every on-ice fight? ) The real question is, why are some of these guys even in the NHL? They don’t score, they play minimum minutes and honestly, some can barely skate. I’m not saying they are not good people. These are tragic deaths. But, did fighting contribute to brain damage that altered their mental attitude or were they unable to cope with being unemployed?

Either way, the league should address this issue and move towards eliminating fighting from professional hockey.

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Imfacebook freindswith Mike Holmes the contractor on the tv show and he worked with the last guy to die and posted a video of , wade and people were writing stuff like "i hope the NHL does something about this" like its their fault. sad thing was most had some type of hockey related profile pic. Maybe being an enforcer sucks, i get it, but youcant blame the NHL for this. These guys get their jobs based on the fact they fight and make it rough for other teams. Other wise what team would sign Leblair pieerre leblue leblond or whatever his name is or that peters guy. One could say Parise playing tough in the crease would do the same. Boogaurd was mixing drugs and alcohol, it happens, lots of people die that way. the second i was wondering with the wife how hedied, she said it was never mentioned. The last wade guy hanged himself. Thats depression, people get it, lots of people. People have a hard time understanding how someone who is a professional athlete gets depressed casue they think its the best thing ever. Granted wade retired but he was still doing stuff in the hockey world via analysis. he must be happy as hell right? Depression hits everyone, lets not blame the sport. If enforcers die because of their hard working unnoticed, underpaid jobs, why arent we seeing a wave of Offensive LInemen in the NFL dying like these guys? Feel sorry for the families.

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Excellent -- now Let's hope the Writers Guild gets on the stick with all that drinking authors do. Some publishing house needs to step up to the plate here.

Hollywood and her unions have to start DOING SOMETHINGS about all those suicides of budding young actors and actresses cut down in the prime of life. I think we need to make celebrity in general something easily attainable for all... I don't think Reality TV has taken it far enough because this seems to just give people a false sense of entitlement and they still crash just as hard when people stop paying attention to them...

well at least Bettman and crew are taking this tough problem on...

PEOPLE -- do you all ascribe to the "everyone is a winner" philosophy people are teachign now too? Frankly I think that's part of the problem causing this stuff. WE'RE PEOPLE --- WITH DISABILITIES IN EVERY WALK OF LIFE. I'd love to headshake and tongue cluck and all that sh!t with you all but let's gain some real perspective here. I have had two friends take their lives in the past year. It's part of who they are... you know...

anyhow -- I suppose I should read the article :evil: I am just getting a little concerned at the prevailing attitude here. This is not some condition isolated in sports and all. People make choices. They make them for reasons. Some can handle some things others can't --- it's just LIFE. whatever.... everyone and all of society is FUBAR... I just can't care about every small iota particularly when people bring this sh!t on themselves. YES YOU CAN WALK AWAY. STUPID PEOPLE DIE!!!!! I dont fine Darwin awards funny.... but facts are facts!!! Sorry if that seems insensitive or offensive -- I'm just getting annoyed. Do people just not pay attention to life as it passes them by? Are so called normal people with normal careers and aspirations who do sh!t like this just fvcked up? whatever... so irritating.

fvcking. A. Right on PK. I knew people would start to go in that direction. Fighting will always have a place in hockey. Even if fighting isn't as big a part of the game as it used to be- the threat that there's a price to pay for taking liberties with each other is enough to make guys think twice. Guys are held accountable with the spector of fighting. You have to let the players police themselves. Its just part of the game, and one that better never be removed, because this game has been pussified enough as it is. Now if 1 or 2 more enforcers commit suicide in the near future, I'll start to believe there may be more to it than meets the eye. But only then.

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I love watching fights, and I used to support fighting, but too many fighters are dying. There is too much evidence that shots to the head cause long term damage for this to be allowed. If the game has to change, so be it. I'll miss fighting, but I miss Boogard, Belak and the rest more.

I go back to devilsfan's point from earlier in the thread when people want to attribute the NHL's recent tragedies to fighting because all three happened to be goons...why don't you see this kind of thing in boxing or MMA then (in terms of suicides at least)? They hit each other all the time, more than hockey fighters. It has nothing to do with that.

There is a pattern, but I think it's got a lot more to do with just the general macho tough guy culture of the NHL. It has to somehow get easier for NHL players to admit they have issues off the ice instead of it being taken as a sign of weakness.

Edited by NJDevs4978
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If hockey bans fighting, then its only a matter of time before the hysteria hits boxing or MMA.

Like NJDevs said, the problem isnt the fighting, it's the asking for help when depression hits. It's one of the greatest challenges in the world: having a tough image and then showing weakness by asking for help. I know plenty of people from different "tough" jobs who'd rather deal with things internally and any way they know how than to ask for help or admit they need a hand.

These guys have pain, probably more than most can imagine, but rather than come forward about it, they're giftwrapped pain killers ( as Theo Fleury pointed out on Twitter) and when that's not enough they mix. (see: Boogard)

All of that does crap to your brain.

If they outlaw fighting, yeah you kill a roster spot for a guy who plays "5 minutes a night" but you also take a paycheck of well over half a million out of their pockets. The league should improve the medical and psychological benefits these guys are given. Not take their jobs away.

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I don't think these three s have anything to do with fighting. Boogard had a problem, Rypien had severe depression, and Belak supposedly had depression. Unless being a NHL fighter and that just that makes you depressed I don't see how fighting is directly associated with the s.

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I'm not saying these 3 deaths should end fighting in the game. That on its own isn't enough, especially since we don't know all the details and the circumstances on these deaths. But the findings of this, plus the news of chronic traumatic encephalopathy that they are finding in athletes who have donated their brains to Harvard University like NHL fighter Bob Probert, makes you wonder.

And I have always been a big proponent of fighting, but you wonder if they could study most the fighters brains after death, how many could be like Probert's. Does that have any connection to suicide? (Note Bob Probert did not die of suicide).

The real scary thing is that if Wade Belak was actually depressed for many years, then I guess any player in the league could be right now. He did a heck of a good job hiding it. The NHL needs to put some programs in place to help these players. I think that will be the goal of the league before taking out fighting is.

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Why weren't questions being raised when Roman Lyashenko, Tom Cavanagh, Sergei Zholtok, Stephane Morin, and Alex Cherepanov all passed away...oh yea, none were fighters. Nothing juicy for the radical anti fighting agenda folks to latch on to.

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Why weren't questions being raised when Roman Lyashenko, Tom Cavanagh, Sergei Zholtok, Stephane Morin, and Alex Cherepanov all passed away...oh yea, none were fighters. Nothing juicy for the radical anti fighting agenda folks to latch on to.

cherepanov, morin, and zholtok died of heart conditions over 10 years apart. cherepanov's death certainly raised questions about the KHL's drug testing and medical oversight. lyashenko committed suicide, as did cavanagh - those were also about 10 years apart.

in this instance, 3 fighters have died, 2 by suicide, one by overdose, in less than a year. we're beginning to know what repeated head trauma can do to people. to blame these incidents on fighting would be ridiculous, but the NHL does have to look at how head trauma affects its athletes. whether it takes these incidents, or the fact that savard is another in a long list of players who has to retire early due to concussions, it doesn't matter. something more has to be done.

note: head trauma may have had no role in all 3 recent deaths. but the nhl's culture of 'suck it up, deal with the pain' may well have.

Edited by Triumph
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Well if you think about comparing NHL fighting to other forms of fighting(MMA, Boxing, etc). You to realized that NHL fighters don't wrap their hands or use boxing gloves to soften the blows to the head and face. That's pure bone against bone, bone is very tough, but most MMA fighters use some type of glove so that those smacks to the head are not as serious. I personally don't believe that these deaths are something that are entirely hockey related. Booguard had a drug issue, which plagues many people all over...Rypien and Belak committed suicide from personal problems. It is a very very strange coincidence and to remove fighting from the game is too far.

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I think there needs to be more time and research put into this before anyone makes any drastic changes to the game. The real question is whether these guys had depression for quite some time or if it was caused by the degeneration of the brain from multiple blows to the head and I've not seen any CONCLUSIVE evidence of this.

I personally do not think fighting should ever be removed from the game of hockey, it's part of the sport and to remove it would be to fundamentally change the game. I think a more paramount issue is guys who are on the ice to fight and to fight alone i.e. Andrew Peters, who I swear never had the puck on his stick for more than 5 seconds during his entire stint with the team. These guys are built to fight and nothing more, but a guy like Rupp, Clarkson or a Salvador who can actually play hockey proficiently, I don't see anything wrong with them fighting on occasion since they're not just purpose built bruisers, they're hockey players that can also fight.

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The only solution is something radical that will never fly...taking all contact out of the game. Because let's face it, the head gets jarred all the time. Clean hits, dirty hits, hip checks, pucks to the face, contact with the boards/glass/ice/puck etc. There is too much "hard stuff" around the rink to cause damage. So you want a real solution...no contact/no fighting hockey. That's not going to work for anyone

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