The death Tuesday of 69-year-old Canadian actor Alan Thicke while he was playing hockey in Los Angeles has raised some debate about the suitability of the sport for the senior set. Above is action this year from a Parksville Panters game

The death of Alan Thicke — is hockey OK for seniors?

Five players over the age of 65 have suffered heart attacks during, or just after, games at Parksville's Oceanside Arena the past five years

Al Greir has watched them fall — and get right back up on their skates.

The death of 69-year-old Canadian actor Alan Thicke this week while playing hockey in Los Angeles has raised questions about the suitability of the game for the senior set.

Greir, a former Parksville city councillor who will turn 80 next year, said he has seen five men suffer heart attacks during or just after games at Oceanside Arena in the past five years.

“We’ve had several of our players go down on the ice or in the dressing room and the defibrillator has saved them,” said Greir. “And they are still playing. They’ve had a stent thrown in and away they go.”

Greir has been part of the September Classic for all of its 16 years. For five years he was the chief organizer of the hockey tournament for the 55-and-over crowd. More than 500 players come to Parksville every year for the event and some players are well past their 80th birthdays.

After Thicke’s death, a cardiologist told The Canadian Press there’s no right age for someone to hang up their skates.

Dr. Todd Anderson, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and a spokesman for the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, said he discourages strenuous activity for people at risk, such as those with heart disease.

But Anderson said he tells healthy patients to enjoy activities such as hockey, as long as they’re not trying to play like they’re 25-years-old.

Greir agreed with that assessment.

“It’s far healthier than it is dangerous,” said Greir. “As long as you’re feeling good and can skate and have fun — that’s what it’s all about. At our age there’s not a lot of fun to be had, but hockey is one of them.”

The first time Oceanside Arena staff used the automated external defibrillator (AED) was in September of 2011. Parksville Golden Oldies hockey player Bernie Diakow, 81 at the time, was saved by the CPR performed on him by a fellow player and arena staff, and then the use of the AED, before paramedics arrived.

Diakow was not only the first person to receive shocks from the AED — he also launched the fundraising campaign to buy the equipment for the Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association (PGOSA).

The B.C. Ambulance Service gave their Vital Link Awards in 2012 to arena staff Mike Chestnut, Charles Stockand, John Marcellus and Clayton Bannatyne for helping saves the life of Diako and two other hockey players over the age of 65.

Just Posted

Saanich man charged in cross-border drug smuggling operation pleads guilty

William Milton Barnes was charged following a six-month joint investigation

Advanced polls see 29 per cent increase in voter turn out from 2015

Some 4.7 million people took part, says Elections Canada

Victoria city staff start from square one on Crystal Pool project

Victoria staff need direction on revised plans for the Crystal Pool and Wellness Project

Victoria’s Ultimate Toy Fair bounces back into Pearkes

The family-friendly event runs Oct. 19-20 at Pearkes

Everything you need to know before getting the flu shot

Local pharmacist shares concerns, recommendations before flu season hits

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Pot use admission at U.S. border snagging Canadian boomers, says lawyer

A waiver to enter the U.S. can cost $2,000 and isn’t a guarantee

Health concerns over vaping cast haze over Canadian cannabis market expansion

More than 1,000 people in the United States, and a handful in Canada, have developed a lung ailment

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

Most Read