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It’s Been Ten Years Since Young Blue Jackets Fan Was Struck By Puck

from Ian Campbell of 660 News,

It’s been 10 years since the NHL’s first fan death forever changed the way the game is played.

On March 16th, 2002, a slap shot from Columbus Blue Jacket Espen Knutsen was deflected by Calgary Flame Derek Morris with the puck hitting 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil in the head.

According to an exclusive story in The Calgary Sun, Cecil was able to walk to a first aid station and function normally the following day….

Two days later she lost consciousness; doctors discovered the swelling in her brain too late.

Brittanie died later that evening, two days before her 14th birthday….

The NHL mandated netting in all of its buildings three months later in hopes of preventing similar tragedies from ever happening again.

Calgary Sun Sports Columnist and Jack FM morning show co-host Eric Francis calls initial fan complaints about the nets moronic.

“‘I can’t see the game now, it distracts my view of the game’, are you kidding me?” says Francis. “This is something that killed someone before and they’re going to try to protect you and you’re going to try to complain that your view is obstructed?”

read on

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, Hockey Related Stories, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brittanie+cecil

Comments

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

I guess that makes me a moron. Ten years later, I still hate the nets. It is impossible to take all of the risk out of life. Freak accidents happen. She was walking around for two days after the fact. I’m not a pharmacist, but that sounds more like medical malpractice to me.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 03/15/12 at 02:21 PM ET

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I guess that makes me a moron.

Yeah, I guess you are.

Posted by Garth on 03/15/12 at 02:46 PM ET

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I guess I am also a moron.  I wouldn’t use the word “hate” but I do dislike the mesh.  I agree that freak accidents happen, and that it is impossible to take all the risk out of life.  Too bad that once a safety measure like this is put into place, it is almost a certainty that it will never be removed.

(To avoid people putting words in my mouth, I’m not saying that we should throw out safety measures for no reason, nor am I saying that people who don’t pay attention somehow deserve to get struck with a puck.  I do think visibility is a legitimate reason to roll back a safety measure, but I do not expect them to actually do it.)

Posted by GregAnnapolis on 03/15/12 at 02:47 PM ET

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I do think visibility is a legitimate reason to roll back a safety measure

wow

Posted by Garth on 03/15/12 at 03:17 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

I don’t get where either of you two morons are coming from (not you Garth). I had seats looking right through the mesh at Flyers games and didn’t find them to impair my visibility at all. If anything, the one time I had seats next to the glass, I thought that was much more visibly impairing then the nets what with all the ice spray, chips, scratches, etc., on them. Seeing the rockets now from the point, I’m glad they’re in. I almost got hit once while watching a game, 18 rows up at center ice. I saw them playing the puck and didn’t realize it was in the stands coming at me until it was a row or two in front of me. Luckily, the guy in front of me tried to catch it or who knows what would’ve happened.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 03/15/12 at 03:23 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

Btw Paul, your “Rad more” isn’t linked to anything.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 03/15/12 at 03:26 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Thanks philyd, fixed.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 03/15/12 at 03:41 PM ET

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Garth, why not extend the mesh up to the rafters and have it go all the way around the ice?  Or have the game played in a bubble or snowglobe of sorts?

I’m sorry you disagree with me, but it’s the way I feel.  *shrug*

Posted by GregAnnapolis on 03/15/12 at 03:43 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

You can print it on the tickets, announce it over the loudspeakers, hell, even have every single fan sign a damned release form when they come into the arena and you’re still going to get bupkus for legal purchase from all of that by eliminating a safety measure that was implemented after a tragedy in case it ever happens again.

The nets don’t bother me. I like them more than having to wear a riot helmet in the stands in case my attention were to momentarily lapse while I’m leisurely enjoying watching a game. I personally am less bothered by the nets than by the one-in-a-million chances that either I or my family will be maimed by the equipment. That’s just my level of tolerance.

I also agree that people can take their own level of risks and should have that option.  That’s why I’m glad it’s a league choice and not a government-mandated law. 

If the fans who want the nets gone win, then I’ll either take the risk into my own hands or adjust accordingly.  I wouldn’t get rid of them, but I won’t go so far as to say those who would are morons.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/15/12 at 04:15 PM ET

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Garth, why not extend the mesh up to the rafters and have it go all the way around the ice?  Or have the game played in a bubble or snowglobe of sorts?

Sure, why not?

Posted by Garth on 03/15/12 at 05:14 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

Garth, why not extend the mesh up to the rafters and have it go all the way around the ice?

That’s the way all of the local rinks are around here and I thought that’s the way some college rinks are, too.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 03/15/12 at 05:17 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

During the 1970-71 NHL Regular Season there were 546 games. With expansion of both the number of teams and the length of the season, there were 1230 games during the 2001-2002 regular season. Now add in pre-season and playoff games. Now add in minor league and major junior hockey games. We are talking about thousands of hockey games every year over a thirty year period. I could find no other instances of a spectator fatality at a hockey game.

While I could not find the result of the lawsuit, Brittanie Cecil’s parents did sue the hospital and the doctors for malpractice.

http://www.wkyc.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=3668

I think the nets were a knee jerk reaction to a freak accident. If the Cecil’s doctors had diagnosed the torn artery, she would still be alive and NHL arenas would be net-free. That said, JJ, I haven’t heard anyone call for their removal.

People wouldn’t hate the nets so much if the NHL would finance the development of netting with finer strands that is easier to see through. that shouldn’t be too hard to do with modern materials.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 03/15/12 at 05:33 PM ET

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I could find no other instances of a spectator fatality at a hockey game.

But there was that pesky one that wouldn’t have happened if there had been netting.  Small price to pay to save a life.

Posted by Garth on 03/15/12 at 06:48 PM ET

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Garth, phillyd, I was only being partially sarcastic with the suggestion that they play in a snow globe or have mesh run all the way up.  The Naval Academy’s team already does play like that, and I prefer how it was at Dahlgren Hall (without the mesh everywhere).  It was part of the fun as a kid, to go run after a puck and take home a souvenir.  I understand the desire to be safe, but I don’t think that it’s too much to ask that spectators actually spectate (and perhaps even pay attention).  grin

I know someone will probably take issue with this, but I think that if you feel unsafe watching a hockey game with or without the mesh, perhaps a seat in the upper deck (if available) or on your couch in front of the TV is better.  (And I do not mean that sarcastically, to be clear.)

While my preference is for no mesh, I would not enforce that preference on others.  I’m not going to request that the NHL take their mesh down, but I would not complain if they were to suddenly disappear some day.  It seems that we’re just going to get more and more ‘safe’, and I’m sure sometime in my life there will be mesh all the way around the rink.  I don’t like the idea, but it seems it’s going that way whether I like it or not.  Is it sad that I’m “old and cranky” and I’m probably below the ‘average’ age at this forum? wink

Perhaps it’s a statement on the way things are nowadays when my mostly facetious comment is taken at face value, and worse, as something to strive for. :-\

Posted by GregAnnapolis on 03/15/12 at 06:58 PM ET

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But there was that pesky one that wouldn’t have happened if there had been netting.  Small price to pay to save a life.

It also wouldn’t have happened if there was no sport of hockey.  She could have choked on a chunk of hot dog when celebrating an unexpected goal; should we also rid ourselves of the concession stands? wink

I’m really not trying to make light of this death.  Ideal situation is that nobody dies, ever.  But it’s just not reasonable, if you go too far down that line of thinking.  I guess the question is where the line gets drawn.  Today, it’s mesh.  Tomorrow, it’s full-rink mesh.  Later still, bubble wrap and full body suits.  And no hot dogs. raspberry

Posted by GregAnnapolis on 03/15/12 at 07:02 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

It also wouldn’t have happened if there was no sport of hockey.  She could have choked on a chunk of hot dog when celebrating an unexpected goal; should we also rid ourselves of the concession stands?

I’m really not trying to make light of this death.  Ideal situation is that nobody dies, ever.  But it’s just not reasonable, if you go too far down that line of thinking.  I guess the question is where the line gets drawn.  Today, it’s mesh.  Tomorrow, it’s full-rink mesh.  Later still, bubble wrap and full body suits.  And no hot dogs.

Posted by GregAnnapolis on 03/15/12 at 05:02 PM ET

That slippery slope type of argument doesn’t really hold up.  There’s a big difference between the area behind the goal, and other areas in the stadium.  That said, I was at a game two, maybe three years ago when a youngster sitting in roughly row 10, just in from the blue line, was injured by a clearing shot from 80 feet away that was deflected into the stands.  While it was really sad, that’s precisely the sort of unfortunate, relatively unforeseen event that will readily be covered under the wording of the various general ticket waivers (“holder assumes all risks of personal injury and all other hazards arising from or in any way related to the event…” / “...including without limitation, the risk of being hit by a hockey puck, hockey stick…”) if it ends up in court. 

Being hit by a hockey puck while sitting a few rows above the firing zone, well, especially when it’s a minor and there has already been a death…that’s going to be a payout.  This may have been the first fatality, but shots are getting harder these days given the sticks that players are using so it’s only a question of when, not if, the second fatality would have occurred.  Similar waivers when you go to baseball games, but there’s always protective netting nonetheless behind home plate.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 03/15/12 at 07:20 PM ET

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They should remove the glass too and put up netting instead. I’ve seen a pane of glass come down and hit a woman across the bridge of her nose and she had to be taken away by medical professionals. If it were a small child, the child could have been seriosuly injured or killed. Was this just a freak accident or are we just waitiing for a tragedy?

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 03/15/12 at 07:34 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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