Parents of Humboldt victims put focus on mandatory seatbelts

AP
1 Comment

AIRDRIE, Alberta (AP) — Michelle Straschnitzki had a moment of panic when her 16-year-old son, Jett, was preparing to board a team bus for a recent hockey game.

”I didn’t watch him go get on the bus, but the part that choked me up was when I gave him a hug and said, ‘Good luck. Have a great game.’ Then I had a moment of panic,” she said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press. ”My heart stopped. He was actually leaving and going on the bus.”

It was just six months since her older son was seriously injured in a deadly crash involving the Humboldt Broncos. Ryan Straschnitzki, 19, was paralyzed from the chest down in the collision between his Saskatchewan junior hockey team’s bus and a semi-trailer in April at a highway crossing in rural Saskatchewan. Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured.

Straschnitzki and her husband have added their voices to those of other Broncos parents who want buses equipped with seat and shoulder belts.

Tom Straschnitzki contacted the Airdrie Minor Hockey Association when he discovered buses carrying players, including his younger son, didn’t have seatbelts because it isn’t yet mandatory. He said the association immediately made changes to ensure buses with seatbelts are used.

He said watching another child head off to a hockey game was harder on him and his wife than it was on their son, who did not want to be taken by his parents.

”Jett goes, ‘Well, the accident was six months ago, Dad,”’ said Straschnitzki. ”As soon as he got on there, he took a picture of his seatbelt and sent it to us. He said he wasn’t taking it off until the bus stopped.”

Ryan Straschnitzki has continued his rehabilitation. After a two-hour workout, he said having his younger brother board a team bus for hockey brought back memories of the crash.

”I think it should be enforced that you wear your seatbelts,” he said. ”If a bus doesn’t have one, then I’m not sure it should be on the road.”

The injured player said he isn’t sure seatbelts on the Humboldt bus would have made a difference, but it’s worth having them.

”If there’s a one-in-a-million chance of this ever happening, just to be safe, I’d wear it,” he said. ”If a tragedy like this doesn’t sink in, then we’re not doing anything good.”

Transport Canada announced in June that the department will require all newly built highway buses to have seatbelts by September 2020. Some charter bus companies say many new vehicles already have seatbelts, although there is no way to ensure passengers are wearing them.

Russell Herold’s son, Adam, was the youngest Humboldt player killed in the crash, less than a week before his 17th birthday. He told CBC earlier this year he never considered wearing a seatbelt on a team bus until the day he lost his son.

”You can still have fun, you can still be a group, you can still have that atmosphere, but you can have a seatbelt on,” he said.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

austonmatthews
Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.