Hockey has never been more dangerous to play, according to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie.
McKenzie was in Fredericton on Friday to discuss his latest book “Hockey Dad: True Confessions of A (Crazy) Hockey Parent” and the state of the hockey world.
Hockey injuries sparked most of the discussion, namely the growing number of concussions that have crept into the game.
Despite the deaths of three NHL enforcers in the last six months, McKenzie said he “can’t sit here unequivocally and say three fighters, three deaths.”
While the 55-year-old hockey commentator said, “there is no bigger issue in sports right now than brain trauma,” he
refused to speculate on whether concussions had a direct cause in the three deaths.
“I’m not saying they are, but I’m not saying they aren’t either.” The event was a fundraiser to support the STU men and women hockey programs. More than 250 showed up to listen and ask questions. More than $10,000 was raised.
During the question and answer session, McKenzie took the time to give his opinion on the right age to introduce young players to the world of contact hockey.
The age varies from province to province, but McKenzie said the later, the better. It’s better for the player, and for the quality of the game.
“The earlier you bring it in, the more significant injuries you’ll have,” he said. There is very little information on whether the concussions resulted in the deaths, but nevertheless the trauma is too common in the game.
McKenzie touched on a number of other topics. He said the state of the NHL is “pretty darn good” despite the fact that it’s becoming increasingly more dangerous to play.
Some NHL coaches are on “short leashes” and have little to no job security, McKenzie said.
And a second hockey team in Southern Ontario is needed and would definitely find support. Another popular topic was the need for growth in women’s hockey.
“Every young girl in Canada should have the right to play hockey,” he said. “If other countries can get competitive…it will take off.”
Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams at STU play in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league, which McKenzie acknowledged as a league that “wasn’t taken seriously for a while.” But he believes this isn’t the case anymore.
“There’s no reason why they can’t play major junior, the CIS, and play in the AHL, and possibly the NHL,” he said. McKenzie is an avid Twitter user and believes the more information available to people, the better. He called Twitter a news wire and if you are following the right people, the available information is outstanding.
McKenzie has been a hockey commentator since joining TSN in the late 1980s.
Faculty members of STU, including Dawn Russell, STU’s new president and vice-chancellor, and athletics director, Mike Eagles, were at the event. The new men’s hockey head coach, Troy Ryan, was also there accompanied by both men and women’s hockey teams