Royals’ injury bug made worse with head hits

Prince George Cougar given 10 games for concussing Royals' Tyler Stahl

Steven Hodges gets tangled up with Medicine Hat Tigers goalie Tyler Bunz during WHL action at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

Steven Hodges gets tangled up with Medicine Hat Tigers goalie Tyler Bunz during WHL action at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

Physicality is a big part of what makes the Western Hockey League so popular, but the tough side of hockey has a downside. Still early in the Victoria Royals season, the club’s medical room is full.

Head injuries to Royals’ defencemen Zach Habscheid and Tyler Stahl have netted the kind of medical concerns blighting the game of hockey.

Throw in a a lower body injury to Brandon Magee and illness to Brenden Perseley and one of the youngest clubs in the league is even younger.

But it’s the hits to the head that are under the microscope this year with the NHL finally taking a leadership role (as seen in the popular suspension videos by new director of player safety, Brendan Shanahan). The WHL has also introduced a new Seven Point Plan, including a new checking-to-the-head penalty.

The WHL even held a special seminar for coaches and general managers in September at the league’s headquarters in Calgary.

There’s no overnight cure to reduce the amount of career-threatening concussions, but Royals coach and general manager Marc Habscheid does see the culture changing.

“Once an incident happens and the (bigger) suspensions take place (people take notice),” Habschied said, adding he can’t say how much of a role the Shanahan videos have played. “It’s pretty obvious you don’t (allow) hits to the head. I think the kids are getting it. You want to do anything you can to win but there’s a line you don’t cross.”

Zach Habscheid’s status was unknown at press time though his head was seen absorbing contact prior to leaving the ice early in the Royals’ Oct. 6 game versus the Medicine Hat Tigers at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Zach, who is the son of coach Marc, was driven into the boards by Kale Kessy. The latter received a double minor for checking from behind and returned to the game.

Following the game the Royals chose not to comment on Zach’s injury until he underwent a full assessment.

Stahl’s incident was more clear cut, courtesy of an elbow to the head by Prince George Cougars’ forward Charles Inglis in Prince George on Oct. 1. Inglis was assessed a five-minute major and match penalty for hitting Stahl, who needed assistance to leave the ice.

The league disciplined Inglis with a 10-game suspension, effective Oct. 4.

WHL vice-president of hockey Richard Doerksen viewed the Stahl incident on video and finalized the suspension three days after consulting with league commissioner Ron Robison and director of officiating Kevin Muench.

“It was a match penalty, which is the most severe penalty in the book,” Doerksen said.

“We’ve made all of our teams and players very aware of our concerns with illegal blows to the head and the damage that can be caused. Certainly this hit, as a match penalty, was illegal. It injured the opponent. Clearly, (Stahl’s) going to be out for some period of time now as well. Those were the primary factors in it.”

Stahl’s concussion is especially tough since it isn’t the first of his career. His timeline for return is unknown, start with at least a month on the injury reserve list.

“The doctors drive the decisions on that, not the players, so we’ll take it slow and see,” coach Habscheid said.

In the meantime, the injuries are creating opportunities for younger players such as Brett Cote, Keenan Kanzing, Taylor Crunk and Luke Harrison.

Lengthy suspensions

As for Inglis, once his 10-game penalty is complete, it will be the longest served by a WHL player since Tri-City Americans forward Brendan Shinnamin was handed a 12-game suspension for a check from behind on Josh Nicolls of the Saskatoon Blades in October  2010.

The next biggest suspension prior to Inglis’ went to forward Cody Beach of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Beach was assessed seven games for a check to the head on Sept. 23. He was issued a five-minute major and game misconduct for his opening-night hit on Brandon Wheat Kings forward Bruno Mraz.

“That was a severe one too and if (Mraz) had been injured, it would’ve been in the same range,” Doerksen said.

“Obviously any time a player gets suspended now, that will be taken into context should he be involved in the same situation again in the future,” Doerksen said.

–With files by Alistair McInnis, Prince George Free Press

 

 

Just Posted

Sofia Watts, Charlotte Magill and Harriet Knight were among the KELSET Elementary School students releasing salmon fry into Reay Creek May 7. (Ian Bruce/Submitted)
Saanich Peninsula elementary students help restock, clean up local creeks

Salmon fry releases took place at Reay Creek and Tetayut Creek

The City of Victoria hopes to improve its cultural spaces this year and it wants non-profits to help. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Grants up to $125,000 open to Victoria non-profit arts and cultural organizations

Victoria Cultural Infrastructure Grant applications close at the end of May

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich health and safety manager named one of Canada’s top 40 women in safety

Canadian Occupational Safety magazine celebrates women leading safety sector in 2021

North Saanich has started the design of a crosswalk at the intersection of Mills and Littlewood roads near Garden Child Care Centre, whose owner Tracey McCullough has been calling for such a sidewalk. As such, she has been echoing a previous appeal by the building’s owner, Heather and Cory Hastings, standing respectively with seven-year-old Jack Hastings and five-year-old Felix Hastings. (Black Press Media File)
North Saanich moves ahead with crosswalk near child care centre

Crosswalk proposed for Littlewood and Mills roads parts of approved active transportation plan

Colwood city council did a last minute adjustment to this year’s budget, dropping the planned property increase to five per cent. Last year they didn’t increase taxes at all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood agrees to 5% tax increase for 2021, deferring some expenses to next year

Last-minute changes will save the typical Colwood homeowner $56

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read