Originally published March 4, 2017
In the 32 years at The Telegram, never have I used this corner as a soapbox to tout or trumpet a personal agenda or message.
I'll cut to the chase. I nearly lost my right eye Wednesday night, luck coming in the form of a few centimetres (one friend who is a nurse figures millimetres).
It was an innocent enough hockey play. One player fell, I looked down as Brian Rogers would croak, as only he could to gobble up the loose puck, when the player's skate caught me on the right side of the face.
I was not wearing a face mask, nor a half visor. Nothing but the helmet.
I saw the skate, if only for a millisecond. It was impossible to react, and it hit with what felt like the force of a sledgehammer. Long story short, I was cut for only eight stitches. I will be fine, hoping there will little or no scarring.
Sobering, however, is the hospital's claim I came too close to losing the eye.
There are a lot of hockey players like me in Newfoundland, 50plus and overweight men who still think they're boys.
The glory days are long gone. The term speed is an oxymoron.
But we play because we enjoy the game, and the jocular dressing room and the beer afterwards. And while there can be no comparisons to the pros, not even in a remote sense, or even the highlevel amateur games played across the country, the dangers are consistent pucks, sticks and sharp blades.
We try to be acutely aware of the potential for peril, of the high sticks and errant pucks, but the truth remains there is nothing that can be done to avert a freak accident.
Many players today wear some form of facial protection, even if it's the halfvisor. More and more people are wearing the full wire masks, or cages.
But a lot do not.
I was one of those.
Today, I look like a mutant. I'm a bit sore, and I know I'll look like a freakshow at the Brier this week.
But I'm very lucky.
And so if I am to offer any unsolicited advice to a hockey player, it would be this: don a cage. Do it now.
You don't want to gamble on your eyes and teeth. I won the roll of the dice, but I came way too close to losing.
Robin Short is The Telegram's Sports Editor and can be reached by email email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort