Former Mighty Ducks star forward Paul Kariya has gone missing from hockey. You can reportedly find him surfing around Orange County, but you can hardly find him around a rink – or even at ceremonies for his former franchise, like the jersey retirement ceremony for Teemu Selanne.
If only he had a cameo in the Matthew McConaughey ‘hit’ film, “Surfer Dude.”
He was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame on Friday night, where he spoke about his strange absence from the game after retiring after the 2009-10 due to repeated concussions.
“I skated with my niece once. I do a little bit of roller blading, but I haven’t played hockey since I retired,” he said via the Vancouver Sun. “Some players when they’re done playing they almost have a career path into coaching or scouting or being a general manager. My love was for playing. If I could still play, I’d still be playing out there.”
But he can’t, not after absorbing head injury after head injury. Not after jumping back into action quickly after being knocked out in Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final.
Kariya has been a highly outspoken critic of the NHL’s policy towards player safety and head injuries. He knows the damage and understands what could happen if the league doesn’t guard its players against head shots.
The above video was deemed legal at the time. Now? It would probably draw some sort of discipline by the NHL. But there’s still question between hockey culture and the league as far who’s responsible for such behavior.
The former mightiest Duck has one of the most powerful voices in this matter. He was never the same after a vicious Gary Suter cross-check concussed him badly in 1997-98.
Wayne Gretzky has his reasons for not being involved in the NHL anymore and so does Kariya. But man, does it stink that he’s so far gone from the league and the game.
This induction ceremony was just another reminder of how much we miss him.
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