Bloody hockey cards celebrate NHL enforcers
A Canadian sports card company is releasing a series of blood-spattered hockey cards celebrating the game's enforcers.
The cards, from In The Game trading cards, feature many of the NHL's best-known bruisers over the years, such as Marty McSorley, Dave Manson, Jimmy Mann, Tie Domi and Dave Schultz.
But there is also a card for Wade Belak, one of three former tough guys who died within four months of one another in 2011.
"This disgusts me," said his mother Lorraine Belak, who had divulged soon after her son's death that he had suffered from depression for several years.
The deaths thrust the role of the enforcer into the spotlight because of the addictions and depression many apparently suffer and the theory that brain trauma from concussions is responsible.
Belak was found dead in a Toronto hotel on Aug. 31, an apparent suicide, sources have told CBC News. Lorraine Belak said the family has asked to see her son's card and will decide whether to keep it in the series.
Fellow NHL fighters Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien were found dead in their homes in May and August, respectively.
Boogaard died of an accidental overdose from a combination of too many painkillers and alcohol. Rypien, who had sought help in the past for depression, committed suicide.
The hockey card set also includes Bob Probert, an enforcer who retired in 2002 after 16 NHL seasons and died in July 2010 of a heart attack.
Georges Laraque, another featured player, gave permission for the company to use his photo but didn't realize there would be fake blood splatters on the card.
"To have a picture with blood, it's showing I'm agreeing with violence ... that's not the image I want to portray to kids," Laraque told CBC Radio.
Laraque has asked the company to clean up his card and get rid of the blood or pull it altogether.
A Boston University neurosurgeon who studied the brains of deceased athletes found Probert had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by blunt impact to the head.
The neurosurgeon, Robert Cantu, said symptoms of CTE include memory loss, impulsiveness, mood swings and addiction.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Boogaard suffered the same disease.
Do you think the cards should be pulled or re-designed? Have your say.
Brian Price, owner of In The Game trading cards in Ontario, said he's trying to capture the history of hockey and feels the enforcer series "is bringing attention to the players who do the work in the trenches."
"I'm not glorifying violence. I'm paying tribute to the players," he added.
In addition to cards about the individual enforcers, there are subsets on famous bloody battles, instigators and record holders.
Many of the cards are decked out with fake blood spatter and bandages, while others include pieces of fabric from game-worn jerseys.