12 March 2011

Blast from the Past

Anyone can say that an object heading at 105 mph is life threatening, especially if its made of pure solid rubber. In this year’s NHL Skills Challenge is was Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins showing fans that pucks really do move that fast.  Yes, he did get a strong wind up and a running start, but who’s to say it hasn’t happened in a game. 

So lets thinks for a second, a puck traveling that fast obviously could do some damage.  If you don’t believe me then try standing in front of a baseball going 100 mph, that’s going to hurt.  So the real question is if Chara gets off a 105 mph slapper in a game, can it lead to fatality.

For this we take a look at the equipment used by hockey players.  You have three well protected regions that include:

Head: protected by helmet, neck guard and optional face mask.  Most helmets are made out of nitrile foam which absorbs impact and disperses it around a larger area.

Body: protected by shoulder pads, elbow pads and some good old fashion muscle.  Shoulders pads and elbow pads are made of cloth with some plastic.

Legs: protected by a garter belt, shin pads, hockey pants and heavy socks.  The layered hockey pants help protect your lower legs and the shin pads are made of polyurethane which keeps you covered.

So where would Chara have to hit to be deadly.  In my eyes a player who attempts to block Chara’s blow by laying down potentially gets struck in the side near the back right under the shoulder pad. A player struck in this region would experience immediate internal bleeding, in the cavity where the kidney is located.  Organs and back muscle would be crushed.  The chances of survival all depend on how quickly the hemorrhage can be stopped.

So yes, there are weapons and then there is Zdeno Chara’s slap shot.

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