Some Numbers

Back when the Zednik incident occurred, there was a lot of commentary about how dangerous the NHL game could be and some lobbying for steps that should be taken to make it safer. Out of curiosity, I did a little math and did a little googling.

There have been ~35,500 games played in the post-expansion NHL. Figuring 40 participants per game, that is 1.4 million man-hours of hockey. In that sample, we've seen one accidental death: Bill Masterton way back in 1968. The death rate is 0.7 per million hours of NHL hockey. He is the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of an on-ice incident, and he'd probably still be alive today if he had been wearing a helmet.

Here are some other rates for the general public, taken from this article:

Bicycling: 0.26 deaths per million hours
Driving: 0.47
Motorcycling: 8.8

Motorcycling is at least 12.5 times deadlier than post-expansion NHL hockey.

Over its entire history, NHL hockey has been about as dangerous as driving a car in this crude measure of deaths per hour. When you consider how many more hours a player spends travelling than playing, it would make a lot of sense to invest in greater transportation safety than on-ice safety. I don't think I need to type out a list of deaths in motor vehicle accidents to make that clear.

And this probably doesn't need to be said: you and I spend far more time travelling in motor vehicles than we do playing NHL hockey. There are bigger issues out there than mandatory neck guards.

What is the number needed to treat for neck guards? For the cost of equipping every hockey player in the country with one, how many motorcycles could we throw into compactors?


Anonymous mikado said...

regardless of the numbers, neck guards are a good idea and they should be mandatory....if they can wear them in junior, then why not in the NHL? (same goes for visors)

5/31/2008 5:48 p.m.  
Anonymous coutNY said...

Let me say that I have never driven a motorcycle, and honestly really never expect to.... but when it cost more to get to work than your taking home, I can see why many people are ignoring the risk. Yes, I am sure Luc's tragic end had nothing to do with saving a few bucks on gas, but I believe we will see a steep rise in deaths because of new inexpereinced motorcyclist on the road. Sad reality of the economic times we live in.

6/04/2008 9:51 a.m.  
Blogger Jeff J said...

I would have guessed that motorbikes would get at least double the mpg of small cars, but they don't.

Surprising to say the least. Unless you get one with a tiny displacement, they're not much better than small cars. And you can confortably fit four passengers in a car.

6/05/2008 8:48 a.m.  

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