In the aftermath of the deaths of Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien, The National Post's Dave Bidini wrote an equally fascinating but uncomfortable article about youth hockey's subculture.
Realistically this article should be inclusive of all sports in North America. I also found Bidini guilty at times of stretching his arguments to some degree. Mr. Rypien's family history of mental illness has been brought to light, suggesting he may have been pre-disposed to his demons regardless if he ever played hockey or not.
But ultimately Bidini's argument is correct - that sometimes the environment of youth sports - created by both teammates and adult coaches - is not a good place for our children to be around. Even if it is disturbing read, it is an excellent read. Hopefully it brings to light the need for these leagues and national bodies to clean this up.
In concluding the article Bidini made note of a another NHL death which he, apparently intentionally, may have altered history.
He talks about Ed Kea, a NHL defenseman with the Atlanta Flames and St. Louis Blues in the 1970s and early 1980s. If he is known at all to new generations of hockey fans it is as Joe Nieuwendyk's uncle. His career ended after a major concussion, which Bidini (in another stretch) ultimately killed him.
In 1999 Kea died prematurely at the age of 51. It has always been reported, including in obituaries at the time, as an accidental drowning.
However Mr. Bidini suggests otherwise:
"Here's a story, and I'm telling it: It's about an old player from the '70s, Ed Kea, a former Atlanta Flame who hated what he'd become. Because of undiagnosed concussions and other injuries, he could barely walk or understand what his wife was saying. So, one day, Ed wheeled himself to the edge of the dock and threw himself into the water. His wife looked out the window of their home - she was going to bring him tea, maybe a sandwich - but the dock was empty. He was gone. Gone. The game had stolen him, taken from his family, but some would suggest that he'd disappeared long before he'd taken his life."
Is Bidini letting the real story of Mr. Kea's death out of the bag?
Update: Here is Bidini's response to my question, via Twitter.
@hockeyesque - his nephew told me this last year
He has not yet answered why the family has always kept this news quiet over the years, or if the family has given it's okay to let this news be known at this time.