Skate to the Puck

Hockey Stick and Puck

What do hockey and Hondas have in common?

Iknow it sounds harsh, but I am certain I have told her this on more than one occasion. “If a puck comes your way, either put your hands up or pull your head down!” Apparently, she didn’t listen to me. The hockey game we were attending wasn’t anything unusual, until Susann took a puck to the face. Then things got exciting.

Being the overly helpful person I am, I tried to assist in stopping the bleeding. Both nostrils were in full bleed mode and a gash below her right eye was flowing at an impressive rate. With our combined efforts, all we managed to accomplish was to cover our hands and clothing with an abundance of the bright red stuff. It wasn’t long before row G looked like a scene from a horror movie.

We were relocated by arena staff and a medic to a suite down the hall where they could do some taping and wrapping. Since we declined the ambulance, it would be up to me to get her to the emergency room. I felt like a superhero giving aid to a helpless lady in distress as I rushed her through the emergency entrance doors. My hero status seemed to diminish slightly as we approached the receiving desk.

With my blood-stained hands and soiled clothing, I reported that my injured wife had a mishap. It might just be me, but I really felt like they were staring judgmentally at me. They asked her a lot of questions, including this little beauty: “Do you feel safe at home?” She assured them she did, but I couldn’t help inquiring why they didn’t bother asking her if she felt safe at the hockey arena.

Eventually we got to see a doctor, and after four stitches, a tetanus shot and some TLC, she is looking like a well-schooled hockey fan. She will heal quickly. She’s a tough and tender woman, and I love her just the way she is. But I couldn’t stop running the scenarios through my mind as to how this might have been avoided or at least minimized. I guess that is the curse that probably comes with being a safety instructor of any kind.

I spend more time riding a motorcycle than any other single activity in life, besides maybe sleeping. Therefore, most of my analogies come from that perspective. My conclusion is that if you do your homework and take the initiative, motorcycling can be safer than attending a hockey game. Let me explain.

Susann and I have both taken (or taught) rider courses to gain proficiency in safely riding a motorcycle. I searched all of Al Gore’s Internet for “hockey spectator safety” and found no formal instruction available to the general public.

To ride our motorcycles in public, we were both required to pass state-sponsored tests, written and riding, to prove we could ride with precision and safety. There is absolutely no testing required to certify our ability to safely observe a hockey game without incurring personal injury.

We were able to purchase a wide range of motorcycle safety gear to minimize the risk and maximize the enjoyment of riding motorcycle. I searched the hockey arena’s apparel and gift shop for safety gear and found none. You can purchase entire wardrobes of flashy hockey clothing bearing every name but your own. You can buy bells, whistles, horns and hats, even miniature hockey sticks and foam fingers. But you can’t buy a helmet with a face shield. They don’t even offer a mouth guard.

The bottom line is this: You can maximize safety and minimize risk by acquiring quality riding gear and taking the proper training. But you do have to take action to make it happen. Do you remember the difference between riders and bikers? Riders wear riding gear while touring. In contrast, bikers wear costumes while making a lot of noise. At the end of the day, if you don’t take the initiative to gear up and sharpen your riding skills, you will be as vulnerable as a spectator at a hockey game.

We will miss the Thursday evening hockey game this week since Susann has to get her stitches removed after work, but we do plan to be there for the Friday evening match. She says she is ready for anything they send her way, but she is going to try to keep her head out of the game this time. She researched some statistics, crunched some numbers and concluded there is no way she can get hit with another hockey puck until sometime after December 2025.

Call me sentimental if you must, but my favorite flower in the whole world has to be the Black-Eyed Susann.

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