He had to promote hockey in California and he succeeded. On a spring evening in 2003, Paul Kariya became the motto for the Ultimate Warrior.
Heavily scrutinized by Scott Stephens, the prolific striker remained lying on the ice, inactive. For 48 seconds, forever, hockey fans held their breath. Did the worst happen?
But Kariya got up. He retired to the locker room, then came back in this sixth game of the Stanley Cup Final to score…a goal.
A powerful slap shot that the attacker does not remember. Because as he revealed 14 years later in a TSN documentary titled flatteningAnd Kariya does not remember the check, nor his imaginary network, nor the days that followed.
The scene is unimaginable in today’s hockey game. The striker had just suffered one of six concussions that would derail his career to the point that it prematurely ended him at 35.
One of six head injuries that would also reduce brain function by 60%.
Hockey is over
Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that the Warrior no longer had a hockey heart. The name of the TSN documentary is not trivial. Kariya’s passion is surfing now.
He doesn’t remember his prolific career (989 points in 989 games) in his fine home in California. He missed removing the shirt of his eternal friend Timo Ceylan.
His last major hockey-related public outing appears to be tonight in October 2018, when his No. 9 was also hoisted to the ceiling by the Ducks, a year after his Hall of Fame induction.
Paul Kariya and his wife Valerie Dawson when the ducks retired in October 2018.
Matthew Tkachuk is not Paul Kariya (read the other text here). And in 2023, concussions are being taken more seriously by the NHL than they were 20 years ago. After his rough contact with Keegan Kolesar, Tkachuk passed the protocol exams set by the department.
It’s hard to believe Kariya could have returned to the game after Stevens’ check. The tests, which the players take in a dark room, include questions about short-term memory.
And even 14 years later, the striker does not remember anything about that match that changed his life.
The “bloodthirsty” side of humans
But what remains, two decades later, is the tendency for fans to revere those athletes who play despite injuries, no matter how severe.
This habit, we’re not going to change it, says Louis de Beaumont, a clinical neuropsychologist who is also a researcher at the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur-de-Montréal.
He notes that the “bloodthirsty” side of humans, which is a bit like the time of gladiators, is deeply rooted in us. That becomes important [leur équipe] Winning a Stanley Cup, when primarily entertaining, becomes acceptable [qu’ils continuent à jouer]. “
We have a complete problem.
The doctor adds that the mentality of athletes is also difficult to change.
“The player has dreamed all his life of winning the Stanley Cup, there are 31 other teams in the league, and he wonders if he will ever have the chance to win another trophy. It is about justifying the risks we take to our health, as a public, and the athlete himself as a coach.
“All of these are paradoxes that will haunt human beings forever. It is therefore complicated to ask an athlete to withdraw from the game.
Even at the risk of the rest of his life. Hence the importance of respecting the concussion protocol above all else.
“If these established rules are not respected, we have a complete problem,” he laments, referring to the case of Matthew Tkachuk.