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The Morning Rundown™

As NFL deals with Hamlin injury, NHL is no stranger to cardiac events

Jan 06, 2023


The apparent cardiac event Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered during a game earlier this week shocked many, including players and fans of the National Hockey League (NHL). Kevyn Adams, general manager of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, expressed his support for Hamlin’s recovery earlier this week.

“As a community, we care. We care about each other in Buffalo and as organizations we care about each other” Adams said, according to this tweet from the Sabres. “I know our players feel that. We’re all just thinking about Damar.”

The NHL has dealt with cardiac events like Hamlin’s at least five time in the last 25 years. The first and perhaps most notable of these happened to Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger, who suffered from commotio cordis after taking a slapshot to the chest during the 1998 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Commotio cordis is one of the suspected causes of Hamlin’s apparent cardiac event.

“Prayers that Damar Hamlin can have the same outcome that I was fortunate to have with my incident,” Pronger tweeted Tuesday. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Damar, his family, teammates and the greater NFL community during this incredibly scary time.”

In all five cases, including Pronger’s, the players were able to recover from their cardiac events. Pronger ended up playing 12 more seasons.

The incidents pushed the NHL to evolve its protocols regarding cardiac events. In 1998, the same year Pronger collapsed, the NHL started requiring players take electrocardiogram (EKG) tests.

In 2005, the league required a physician to be within 50 feet of the benches and AEDs to be in close proximity. After Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench in 2014, that doctor was required to be an active, trained specialist in emergency management.

Now, the NHL’s emergency action plan requires at least three physicians, two ambulances and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at all arenas. The arenas also have removable benches to clear space for medical attention.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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