Since entering federal politics Ken Dryden has all but left hockey behind. He was once one of the greatest the game has ever seen, and followed that passion up into a literary and business career predicated on his love of ice and pucks.
He does not have time to talk about hockey anymore, he said recently, due to political commitments on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. And he seems to have no regrets in adopting this stance.
But with the hockey world rocked by continuing incidents of scary brain injuries, the heady Dryden has broken his silence. One of the most articulate men you will ever hear has one clear message: How could we be so stupid?
Dryden penned a guest column in The Globe and Mail this weekend.
"I feel the same when I remember that the effects of smoking or of drunk driving were ignored for so long. I feel it when I think of women in the past having no right to vote and few rights of any kind, and when I think about slavery: How could people 50, 100 or 200 years ago not have known? How could they be so stupid?He goes on to talk about the nature of sports, specifically hockey and football. He ends his lengthy article with this:
"I wonder what will make people say that about us 50 years from now. What are the big things we might be getting really wrong? Chemicals in our foods? Genetic modifications gone wrong? Climate change?"
"In sports, I think, the haunting question will be about head injuries."
"The voices of the future will not be kind to us about how we understood and dealt with head injuries in sports. They will ask: How is it possible we didn't know, or chose not to know?
"For players or former players, owners, managers, coaches, doctors and team doctors, league executives, lawyers, agents, the media, players' wives, partners and families, it's no longer possible not to know and not to be afraid, unless we willfully close our eyes.
"Max Pacioretty was only the latest; he will not be the last. Arguments and explanations don't matter any more. The NHL has to risk the big steps that are needed: If some of them prove wrong, they'll still be far less wrong than what we have now.
"It is time to stop being stupid."Powerful stuff from a visionary man. Only it should not take visionaries to see this. We all just have to open our eyes.
You can read the full Globe and Mail article here.