The Canadian Medical Association is now speaking out about violence in the NHL.
Doctor Louis Francesscutti President of the CMA and a doctor here in Edmonton sent an open letter to Commissioner Gary Bettman, and the NHL.
Francesscutti says they just want to speak to NHL officials before laying out a platform.
“We’re not talking about the puck that gets inadvertently deflected, we’re not talking about the skate that gets caught on the ice, we’re talking about players are instructed to do harm to other players. We all know it exists, and that’s what we’re concerned about.”
Francesscutti says it’s concerning to medical staff in the league and at the institutions the players are being taken to.
“Its citizens are saying ‘why are physicians getting involved in this?’ We’re seeing people that are getting hurt, that don’t have to get hurt.”
He says they just want to sit down with the NHL before laying out any platforms.
“Ideally, what happens is that you need to acknowledge that there’s a problem. I don’t think the NHL has acknowledged that there’s a problem. Once they have, we need to find a combination of education, engineering solutions, enforcement solutions or economic incentives or disincentives.”
Francesscutti adds violence doesn’t seem to be a problem overseas.
“There are plenty of hockey leagues around the world that we can look that don’t have this problem. Then it becomes a cultural issue. Are we prepared to change the culture surrounding this sport? Now it may not be this year that we’re prepared, as it may take a couple of years. But we just want to start the discussion.”
Here’s the full letter written to Commissioner Gary Bettman:
Dear Mr. Bettman,
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the national voice of Canada’s doctors with 80,000 physician-members from coast-to-coast-to-coast, remains very concerned about the ongoing level of violence and intent to injure among players in the National Hockey League (NHL).
As you may know, physician-delegates attending the CMA Annual Meeting in Calgary in August overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution condemning NHL executives and owners regarding violence in the sport. In voting on this resolution and discussing it publicly, CMA members hoped that increased awareness of the serious health ramifications violence in hockey has for players might help reduce the carnage when the NHL season began.
Unfortunately, since the regular season began in October the gruesome spectacle of players suffering vicious assaults from opponents has continued unabated. As you well know, this violence has led NHL Vice-President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan to suspend 11 players for a total of 47 games and this before the season is even two months old. This concerted action is laudable, but clearly more must be done.
Canada’s doctors recognize that hockey is a high-speed, exciting sport that brings with the potential for injury to those playing the game. Pucks deflect, skates catch awkwardly and high-speed collisions occur. However, Canada’s doctors have an obligation to speak out on the issue of targeted violence in the game and to urge any and all steps necessary be taken to eliminate it.
With increasing awareness globally about the tragic long-term effects of concussions and head injury, should come greater understanding and effort on the part of the NHL and team owners to eliminate such injuries. The future of the greatest game in the world is at stake.
The CMA is committed to advancing this issue and would be more than pleased to meet with you to look for solutions with the NHL.
Louis Hugo Francescutti, MD, PhD, MPH, FRCPC, FACPM, FRCPI, FRCPE President Canadian Medical Association (bg,bd)