Ottawa

$702K award for on-ice hit a 'wake-up call' for rec hockey

Ottawa recreational hockey players and co-ordinators say they hope a decision to award a player more than $702,000 for an on-ice injury serves as a serious warning that violence has no place at their level.

Violence rare in recreational leagues but still an issue, players say

The Icemen and the Wraptors play a game of recreational hockey at the Carleton Ice House in Ottawa on Jan. 16, 2020. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

Ottawa recreational hockey players and co-ordinators say they hope a decision to award a player more than $702,000 for an on-ice injury serves as a serious warning that violence has no place at their level.

A bodycheck from behind in a 2012 game in the capital left Drew Casterton with headaches and fatigue.

On Friday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Sally Gomery found Gordon MacIsaac, an opposing player in the now-defunct Ontario Senior Men's Hockey League, liable for Casterton's injuries.

A lawyer for Casterton, now 36, declined an interview with CBC. MacIsaac's lawyer did not respond to CBC's interview request Wednesday.

Drew Casterton was awarded more than $702,000 in damages by an Ontario Superior Court judge on Friday after he suffered a life-altering head injury resulting from a hit during a recreational hockey game in March 2012. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

"It is very sad," said Walter Raschkowan, a longtime beer league player, on Wednesday. "I think that more players need to take [safety] into consideration when they're playing."

While violence is rare is rec hockey, Raschkowan said when he does see outbursts it's usually during playoffs when emotions run high.

"Personally the players I like to surround myself with … are guys that are just going out to play hockey," said Scott Shackell, 29, a league co-ordinator with the Minto Skating Centre.

The size of the sum awarded to Casterton, $702,551 in total, will hopefully get the attention of all players and give those few who take the game too far some pause, he said. 

"I just wish everyone could take a step back. If things are going that crazy in your mind, get off the ice if you have to."

Liability insurance

Lori Lopez, executive director of Canadian Adult Recreational Hockey Association, said it's partly the risk of injury in hockey which prompted her organization to offer their more than 450 member leagues insurance.

It provides liability coverage of up to $10 million to players for $23 a year.

"Municipalities are starting to mandate liability policies for any of their ice users and adult users are starting to recognize as well that they are open to risk," she said. 

The coverage is only valid in cases where injury is accidental, said Lopez. 

Shackell encourages recreational hockey players and teams to ensure they have liability coverage, especially considering the amount of damages this case shows can be awarded.

"It's a wake-up call for everyone," he said. 

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Ottawa. Previously, she worked as a reporter in Winnipeg and as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

With files from The Canadian Press

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