Russian hockey player Dmitry Uchaykin has died a few days after being hit in the head during a Kazakh Hockey Federation playoff game.
Uchakyin who played for Ertis Pavlodar was 32, the league has cancelled the rest of the playoff series due to the incident.
Uchaykin was apparently able to leave the ice after the hit and even drove himself home, the Vancouver Sun reports, citing Russian media sources. He later complained about a headache, was hospitalized and slipped into a coma.
The Hockey House reports Uchaykin died early Sunday from a reported cerebral hemorrhage. He is survived by his pregnant wife and daughter.
The hit puts the spotlight back on head injuries in hockey. Over the last few years, the hockey world has become more aware of the dangers of concussions and other head injuries. Serious long-term injuries to star players such as the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, one of the game's biggest stars, brought the issue to the forefront. Crosby recently suffered another serious injury and is out indefinitely after being struck in the face with a puck.
A report found that during the 2011-12 season the NHL lost some 90 players, or 1,700 man-hours, to head injuries. There are also fears that sooner or later a player may be fatally injured during a game.
The Hockey News' Adam Proteau says the NHL could institute a rule to force players to sit out a few games after a head hit. He also feels players should be examined by independent doctors instead of team doctors.
The problem exists in other leagues as well. A study of university hockey players revealed that the frequency of head injuries is much higher than first thought.
"Players are scared to be seen as weak and almost always want to play. Coaches expect their players to 'shake it off' and 'take it for the team' and get back on the ice. I think coaches fail to admit the significance of the symptoms," said one of the doctors who worked on the study.
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