On Wednesday, Jarret Stoll of the Los Angeles Kings had to be rushed to hospital after suffering a seizure at his Hermosa Beach home. A little later, Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi told the LA Times, "bottom line is that he's fine. Now the issue is what caused it."
Call me cynical but when anyone, much less a hockey player, suffers a seizure, I wouldn’t be as inclined to suggest that they’re fine so soon. Perhaps Stoll is feeling better but this is the first I’ve heard about an NHLer suffering a seizure in a very long time, assuming it’s even happened before.
As for what caused the seizure, most believe that it stems from the headshot Stoll received during the playoffs from San Jose’s Raffi Torres that resulted in the 31-year-old being diagnosed with a concussion. Of course, nothing’s set in stone just yet.
If the Torres hit is what caused Stoll’s seizure then the floodgates will surely fly open again on the matter of headshots in hockey.
While I am concerned about the health of Jarret Stoll, the selfish side of me worries about the Melville, Saskatchewan native’s future not only with the Kings but in hockey overall.
At 31, he may be middle-aged in a hockey sense but Jarret Stoll still has plenty of years left in him. To have an incident like this curb the longevity of one’s career would be tragic to say the least. Although I’m not suggesting that having a seizure automatically equates to premature retirement, it is worth pondering in a sport as fast-paced and as hard-hitting as hockey.
In one sense, while it may not be altogether rational to compare the two sports, this incident reminds me of a middleweight boxing match in early 1995 between England’s Nigel Benn and American Gerald McClellan. After a heated bout where both parties landed a series of haymakers, the match ended with McClellan getting the worst of it. Immediately following the bout, McClelland collapsed in the ring before falling into a coma for the next 11 days. While he did regain consciousness, McClellan’s life was never the same as he lost his sight, 80% of his hearing and was never able to walk unassisted again.
I do realize that such an instance is rare and while McClelland, unlike Stoll, received multiple blows to the head in a sport where its professionals aren’t required to wear protective headgear, a shot to the head is no less severe in hockey – and if you don’t believe me, just ask Paul Kariya, Geoff Courtnall or Keith Primeau much less Stoll.
What angers me about this situation (assuming it was the Torres hit that caused Stoll’s seizure) is not so much how so many harshly criticized the NHL for suspending Raffi Torres for the remainder of his team’s series with the Kings but the suggestion that Jarret Stoll wasn’t genuinely hurt – thus resulting in such harsh ramifications for the 31-year-old Torres.
I would be most interested to hear the reactions of those who did suggest that Stoll was, for lack of a better term, faking his injury – notably San Jose GM Doug Wilson who after playing 16 years in the NHL himself, should have known better than to make such an accusation.
As I already mentioned, an NHLer suffering a seizure is a foreign concept to me. While I am willing to admit that I’m wrong if someone’s willing to correct me, I really cannot recall a previous instance when this has happened. While it is in a sense fortunate that this has likely never happened before, it concerns me gravely that this has happened to any player regardless of which team he plays for or which level he plays at.
How this incident will affect Jarret Stoll’s career will definitely be a hot topic in the coming days and weeks, especially for those who love to throw their two cents in on issues they really know nothing about. Case in point: the know-it-alls who claim to be neurology experts after taking a couple of biology classes in college.
As time goes on, the more will be revealed about Jarret Stoll’s condition as everyone in the Kings community, not to mention around the NHL, is focused on the winger’s well-being as we all wish him a speedy recovery.