COLUMN

There was no penalty on the play

Allan Fotheringham March 16 1987
COLUMN

There was no penalty on the play

Allan Fotheringham March 16 1987

There was no penalty on the play

COLUMN

Allan Fotheringham

It was seven minutes into the second period in the Regina Agridome on March 1 when 18-yearold Brad Hornung of the Regina Pats cut for the net. As he raced toward the Moose Jaw Warriors’ goal, he spotted Craig Endean open on the left and dished the puck across to him. A lot of hockey players would then wheel away from their check. But Hornung was known as a “lunchbucket” player in the junior Western Hockey League, in that he made up for his lack of talent by his thirst for the game.

He is the son of former National Hockey League player Larry Hornung and hoped to be picked in this year’s NHL draft.

(“Only” five-foot-ten and “only” 175 pounds, he was considered small by pro scouts, but they praised his ability to drive for the net.)

Instead of wheeling away from his check,

Brad Hornung tried to cut behind the net and come around to get back into the play in case of a rebound. That was his style and Troy Edwards of the Moose Jaw team, who had played Hornung many times before, knew that was his style. So, from behind, he gave Hornung a swift chop in the back with his hockey stick, propelling it outward with both hands as you would a barbell.

Brad Hornung went headfirst into the boards. His helmeted head snapped back. He was unconscious when he hit the ice. When the team trainer reached him, he discovered the boy had swallowed his tongue and was choking to death. His jaw was locked shut and the trainer couldn’t reach into his mouth to yank his tongue back. With the player flat on his back on the ice, with 6,000 fans in the stands suddenly deathly silent, doctors slashed his throat open so he could breathe and they could recover his tongue. Brad Hornung now is in a hospital bed, where he will remain for the rest of his life, his spinal cord crushed, permanently paralysed from

Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.

the neck down, needing a respirator to help him breathe. There was no penalty on the play.

Who’s responsible? Simple. The callous morons who own and run the National Hockey League. They are the greedy jerks who have taken the game which the Soviets and the Czechs still know how to play in its pure form and have turned it into roller derby—since they have determined that fans like violence. Troy Edwards is not to blame. He has been taught since so-high to cross-check from behind, since referees never call

it anymore—the referees hired by hockey’s Establishment.

“Take the man! Take the man!” Howie Meeker screams from the TV set each Saturday night, admonishing some poor fool who tried to play the puck instead, in the strange assumption that the puck is supposed to be the main object in hockey.

Troy Edwards took the man and now we’ve got yet another paralysed 18-year-old.

He is not the first, and he won’t be the last as long as the millionaires set the pattern for the game at the top for the boys who want to graduate there. Brad Hornung was taught that you had to cut for the net and Troy Edwards was taught that crosschecking from behind was okay. Between 1976 and 1983, 42 players in Canada suffered spinal injuries. Of the 42, 17 suffered full paralysis below the point where the backbone was injured. Most of the injuries came when the players were

“checked” from behind or hit the boards. Their median age was 17.

The other day, the undistinguished Chris Chelios of the Montreal Canadiens, a large defenceman, delivered the same familiar chopping crosscheck with the stick to Rick Middleton of the Boston Bruins, one of the more skilful players in the NHL. Middleton plowed into the boards and was carted off bleeding with a concussion. There was no penalty called.

The pros teach well. In the first period, Moose Jaw’s Pat Beauchesne slashed Regina’s Chris Tarnowski, who replied with a spear to the stomach. Later, Regina’s Mark Janssens slashed Warrior goalie Glen Seymour, who retaliated with a butt-end to the head. Regina’s Cregg Nicol hooked Theoren Fleury of Moose Jaw around the neck with his stick and brought him down. Classy stuff.

John Ziegler, the tame president of the NHL, is a joke, a tame patsy of the owners who encourage the violence by not curbing it. It’s not as if the g players don’t have the £ skills to play the game g properly. As the superb * two-game series at the superb Rendez-Vous in Quebec City showed, Canada’s best matched against the Soviet Union’s best can produce exquisite hockey. The Soviets play with the puck, an odd concept, and force our guys to play with it too.

The figures are clear in almost every minor league in the country. The kids are not going into the game in the same numbers, simply because size is what counts and any big 12year-old can mangle any average 12year-old. The “magic” mark in the junior Western Hockey League is six feet, and Brad Hornung, at only fiveten, was considered too small by the pro scouts. The pros want them big and fast and mean—to fit into the pattern that patsy Ziegler’s owners order him to tolerate.

Oh yes. After the 40-minute delay while the corpse/body had been packed off and the blood scraped off the ice in Regina, the Moose Jaw Warriors won, 6-3.