This case involves a young woman who was seriously injured following a dangerous hit in her intramural ice hockey league. The woman was playing for a team sponsored by her employer, which was competing in the league’s playoffs at the time of the incident in question. The league had low-contact rules that allowed for a minimum amount of shoulder-to-shoulder contact when players were making a play on the puck, but prohibited any kind of checking or other body contact. Despite these rules, the plaintiff was deliberately tripped by another player, who placed her stick between the plaintiff’s legs while she was skating with the puck. As a result, the plaintiff suffered significant injuries, including permanent brain damage.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience in hockey refereeing and/or administration.
- 2. What measures could have been put in place to avoid the situation in question?
Expert Witness Response E-132607
I am currently a licensed professional investigator. I have been employed for over fifteen seasons at the professional hockey level in hockey operations as a trainer, equipment manager, and off-ice official in the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League. My ice hockey experience also includes coaching certification by USA Hockey at Level 3. I have coached ice hockey at the youth hockey, high school, and college levels. I have participated as a player in casual hockey games that were deemed “no checking.” It would seem that the referee’s inability to control the game was a contributing factor here; so poor officiating might be one area in which this league was deficient and dangerous. Making the rules clear to participants prior to the game getting underway is a must for these leagues. What league culture allows and what is strictly prohibited should be clearly outlined.