There have been several high-profile cases recently of NHL players missing extended periods of time, or perhaps even having to end their playing careers, due to blood clots.
For instance, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis opened up about his condition, which is expected to keep him out of the lineup for six months, and his desire to still make it back to the NHL in an article for the Players’ Tribune.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen has battled blood clots in his lungs and leg, and is only now appearing close to a return, although it remains up in the air about when, exactly, that will be.
Goalie Tomas Vokoun, who recently retired from the NHL, was also diagnosed with a blood clot, which he said nearly killed him, in September of 2013.
While these stories appear to be more frequent, a report from The Canadian Press, which outlined these three cases, also cited a medical expert as saying there is a lack of evidence to suggest hockey players are more likely to get blood clots.
There’s no substantial evidence to suggest athletes, especially in a contact sport like hockey, are more likely to suffer blood clots than other people, according to Dr. William Geerts of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. With one out of every 1,000 people getting a clot each year, it’s not more prevalent in hockey players, but Geerts said trauma from injuries could play a factor.
“It’s possible that really intense athletic activity could induce some clotting,” he said. “In many people there are risk factors that would apply to all of us.
“So if I break my ankle, then I could get a blood clot, too, just like an athlete could.”