The Bauer Hockey Corp. acknowledged Thursday it's intensifying efforts to publicize a recall on a defective cage that attaches to a goalie mask.
This follows a May 30 incident in which a young goalie from Bay Roberts, N.L., suffered a serious eye injury, and national media coverage on Thursday that raised questions about the recall process in this country.
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Riley Akerman is expected to undergo a second surgery Tuesday — the same day as his 18th birthday — following a May 30 incident in Toronto.
A piece of titanium wire on Akerman's cage snapped off and pierced his eye after he was struck by a puck, and it could be weeks before Akerman knows whether he will have full sight in his left eye.
The Akerman's were not aware the cage had been recalled two months before by Bauer.
Bauer says lack of awareness a 'big concern'
Michelle Hanson, assistant general counsel with Bauer, told CBC News Thursday the fact that Akerman and his family were not aware of the recall is a "big concern" to the company.
As a result, the company re-issued a recall bulletin to Hockey Canada after Riley's injury. CBC News has learned a notice went out to minor hockey associations in Newfoundland and Labrador on June 4 — five days after the defective mask failed.
The company said it also plans to post recall notices on online goalie forums, Hanson added.
Company followed regulatory protocols
In an earlier statement, Bauer said it followed all the regulatory requirements of a recall. It notified Health Canada and its equivalent in the United States, posted a message on its website, Facebook page and on Twitter.
The company also ordered retailers to pull the defective cage from their shelves, and to post a recall poster in a prominent location.
Hanson said the company also notified Hockey Canada when the recall was issued on March 31, and asked that it distribute the bulletin to provincial minor hockey branches throughout the country.
But that wasn't enough to reach all 2,500 people who purchased the cage over a three-year period ending in February.
Scott Akerman, Riley's father, said they had no idea about the recall.
"If we had been, it wouldn't have been on his face," said Scott Akerman, Riley's father.
And Aiden Craig, president of Avalon Minor Hockey Association in St. John's, said Friday he was unaware of the recall until this week, and he pays close attention to any information relating to goalies.
That's because his 16-year-old son is also a goaltender.
"Any bulletin about a goalie mask recall would have caught my attention," said Craig.
The Akermans say they were also contacted by a hockey family in Corner Brook on Thursday. They were also using the defective cage, but were unaware of any recall.
'All that was required of us'
Mark Crocker, owner of Sports Craft Source for Sports in St. John's, is a leading retailer of ice hockey equipment in the province.
He said the store sold nearly 20 of these masks every year, but only a half-dozen have been returned since the recall, including one that was exchanged on Friday morning.
Sports Craft has been in business for nearly a half-century, and Crocker said it's the first goalie cage recall they are aware of.
Crocker said he received an indication in January that a recall may be in the offing, and he immediately posted the recall notice on their front door when it arrived.
"We did all that was required of us," said Crocker.
Media coverage of Riley's injury has sparked conversation across the country, and left many wondering about the recall process, and whether improvements can be made.
In this case, there was no option to register the product, nor was there a warranty card accompanying wth the packaging.
As such, Bauer had no way of reaching out to customers directly.
Bauer has close relationship with Hockey Canada
The cage was fully certified by the Canadian Standards Association.
However, Bauer issued the voluntary recall at the of March after receiving nine reports of the wire cage cracking or breaking after being impacted by a puck, resulting in facial injuries in four of the reports.
The Akermans are not satisfied that Bauer did enough to spread the word.
Don Power, a well-known hockey commentator and organizer in Newfoundland and Labrador, agrees.
He said Bauer has a close relationship with Hockey Canada, and there is a well-used process by which information can be filtered out to hockey families.
"They provide helmets through a sponsor nationwide to five-year-old kids who are just starting minor hockey. That comes to Hockey Canada, then it comes to us here, at Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador level. Then, that gets filtered to every association in the province. And every association puts it on their website. Northeast, which is the association I've been affiliated with, they would then send an email blast to all of its members to get this information."
Power said re-issuing a bulletin after a player sustains a serious injury is "probably closing the barn door after the horse has been out of the yard."
"It's not going to give this young man back his sight," he added.