The 50 Most Frightening Moments in Hockey History

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IAugust 1, 2012

The 50 Most Frightening Moments in Hockey History

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    The game of hockey is one that is not for the weak-hearted. It features high-octane action, crushing body checks and tons of raw physicality. Sometimes, things go utterly wrong, and it can become frightening to watch.

    There have been tons of moment over the years featuring player injuries, accidents, collisions and moments including spectators that are just down right frightening. Here are the 50 most frightening moments in hockey history.

Teemu Selanne Cuts His Quad Muscle with Skate

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    Teeme Selanne is one of the greatest players in NHL history, and it was tough to watch the Finnish Flash injure himself on this play. The Ducks winger was knocked into the boards and cut his quad muscle with the blade of his skate as he fell. 

    The Flash ended up missing a few weeks before he was as good as new.

Marty McSorley Chops Donald Brashear

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    When this happened live on February 21, 2000, it was a very frightening moment for fans in attendance. Something this intentionally violent was rare for the NHL, and there was widespread concern for Donald Brashear after he suffered a severe concussion. 

    Marty McSorley was sentenced to 18 months probation for assault with a weapon and was suspended one calendar year by league authorities. He never played another game in the NHL. 

Steve Moore Has His NHL Career Ended by Todd Bertuzzi

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    There is not much that needs to be said here. This moment in 2004 was frightening and has nothing to do with hockey. Steve Moore suffered a concussion and three fractured vertebrae in his neck, ending his NHL career. 

    Todd Bertuzzi served a 20-game suspension, the fourth longest in NHL history at the time. 

    The incident led to years of wrangling in Canadian civil courts between the two players as well as Bertuzzi and then-Vancouver Canucks head coach Marc Crawford. Bertuzzi testified that his coach ordered the retaliation against Moore for a hit he had administered against Canucks captain Markus Naslund in an earlier game. 

Tomas Vokoun Injured by His Own Teammate

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    This moment was as frightening as it was unnecessary. Following a goal by the Atlanta Thrashers' Ilya Kovalchuk, Florida defenseman Keith Ballard swung his stick in frustration at the crossbar but struck teammate Tomas Vokoun instead. 

    When Vokoun dropped to the ice, there was a nervousness in the atmosphere because no one knew the extent of his injury. Fortunately, the Czech goalie only suffered a lacerated ear and has enjoyed a long playing career.

Mike Ribeiro Slashed in Throat by Errant High Stick

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    As a result of this errant high stick delivered by Chris Higgins, Mike Ribeiro would miss the next eight weeks of play. It was a frightening moment considering the fact that Ribeiro immediately dropped to the ice and clutched his throat like he had trouble breathing.

Richard Zednik's Neck Cut by Teammate's Skate

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    This incident was not for the faint of heart. Richard Zednik was skating to the corner when his teammate was upended, causing his right skate to strike Zed directly on the side of his neck. 

    Zednik fortunately had the presence of mind to put direct pressure on his neck almost immediately. He underwent surgery to close the wound following the game. This was a frightening moment that could have been a lot worse.

Max Pacioretty Goes Neck First into Stanchion

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    Max Pacioretty missed the end of the 2010-11 season after he was run into a stanchion on a hit delivered by Bruins giant Zdeno Chara on March 8. He suffered a fractured vertebrae and a severe concussion as a result. 

    Chara received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct but no suspension for the hit. 

    This moment stopped the game for several minutes, and it was really frightening for both the fans in the stands and the ones watching at home.

    Remarkably, the Montreal Canadiens' player returned in top condition this season, posting career numbers and taking home the Bill Masterton Trophy for players demonstrating perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport. 

Alex Ovechkin Hits Jake Hillen in Face with Slap Shot

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    With the power of your average NHLer, it is often a scary sight to behold when a shot strikes a player in the face. 

    The Washington Capitals were on the power play when Jack Hillen got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time in front of Alexander Ovechkin's slapshot. 

Clint Malarchuk Incident

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    * Viewer Discretion is Advised

    This is probably one of the scariest moments in hockey history. Clint Malarchuk was a goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres, and during a 1989 game, an opposing player's skate severed his jugular vein following a collision in the crease.  

    Within seconds, Malarchuk was in a pool of his own blood. Fortunately, there was a Vietnam War vet on the Sabre's medical staff who pinched Malarchuk's throat until doctors arrived to suture the wound, which required over 300 stitches.  

Nathan Horton Rocked by Aaron Rome

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    The Bruins' Nathan Horton has not been as effective as he once was, and this hit may have played a significant factor. 

    Horton only played 46 games during the 2011-12 season due in large part to this hit. 

Chris Simon Part 1

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    Chris Simon was a goon who attempted to inflict bodily harm on opponents during his short-lived NHL career. This moment was totally unnecessary and downright frightening.

    Ryan Hollweg and Simon had been physical towards each other all night long, but there was no reason for Simon to hit Hollweg in the head with his stick.

Scott Niedermayer Gets Knocked out Cold

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    Scott Nidermayer was one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history. He was a class player, a true leader and an excellent defender. This moment from the 2001 playoffs was frightening especially for New Jersey Devils fans as they watched him get knocked out cold after a cheap elbow by enforcer Tie Domi.

    Nidermayer dropped right to the ice and looked lifeless as he clutched his stick against his chest. It was a moment that had fans holding their collective breath until it was seen that Nidermayer would be OK.

Chris Simon Part 2

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    Chris Simon continued his goon-like behavior when he tripped an opponent by the bench only to step on his ankle.

Sami Salo Has "Balls of Steel"

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    For the men viewing this at home, the reflex pain you will experience by viewing this clip should eventually subside. 

    Now that you are feeling better about the "situation," Sami Salo deserves a badge of honor after putting his life and livelihood on the line. Salo is wearing an athletic supporter but still winces in shock and horror after taking this shot to the nether regions.

Kurtis Foster Breaks His Leg

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    While chasing down a puck, Kurtis Foster had his leg broken when he was driven into the boards by Torey Mitchell. 

    This was an unfortunate moment to watch live because Foster was writhing in pain following the collision. 

Ryan Johnson Loses Edge and Crashes into Boards

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    Ryan Johnson was a player for the Vancouver Canucks who was attempting to use his speed to break into the zone. While attempting to motor by Nicklas Lidstrom, he lost an edge, stumbled and went head first into the boards at full speed.

Tony Granato Uses His Stick in the Wrong Way

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    This is another frightening moment that should be filed in the " lack of intelligence" category. Hockey is a physical game and testosterone can run high in the spirit of competition, but there is no reason to act like Paul Bunyan when he used a stick in an attempt to chop down his opponent. 

    It was a very gutless move on the part of Tony Granato.

Marian Hossa Knocked out

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    Everyone in the world saw this hit except the on-ice officials. Marian Hossa was blatantly hit with a cheap shot by Raffi Torres of the Phoenix Coyotes.

    Hossa was attempting to move the puck, and Torres left his feet as he lunged into the prone Hossa. As a result, both players' postseasons were over, but Hossa ended up in the hospital and Torres ended up in the press box.

Howie Morenz

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    Howie Morenz was one of the NHL's first star players, and his story is very tragic. The face of the Montreal Canadiens got his skate caught in the boards when he went to collect the puck.

    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Earl Seibert, unable to stop, crashed into the prone Morenz, fracturing his leg in four places. The future Hall of Famer ended up in the hospital and became despondent at the prospect of never playing a game.

    While hospitalized, Morenz suffered a nervous breakdown and what doctors believed was a fatal heart attack only weeks after the suffering the injury. 

The Death of Alexei Cherepanov

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    Alexei Cherepanov's death could have been prevented if the KHL's Avangard Omsk had proper medical staffing and equipment.

    Cherepanov died shortly after collapsing on the bench during a KHL league game. Jaromir Jagr was sitting next to his linemate when he noticed Cherepanov was collapsed on the floor.

    TSN later had a story which helped explain the circumstances surrounding Cherepanov's death.

    Russia's federal Investigative Committee said a chemical analysis of the samples allowed experts to conclude "that for several months Alexei Cherepanov engaged in doping." A spokeswoman at the committee refused to specify the drugs that Cherepanov allegedly took.

    The statement also said Cherepanov suffered from myocarditis, a condition where not enough blood gets to the heart, and the Russian should not have been playing pro hockey.

    The club's medical team might carry legal liability in the episode, the statement added.

    "A row of gross violations was committed by the medical brigade helping A. Cherepanov," the statement said. Among them, doctors arrived on the scene a full 12 minutes after Cherepanov collapsed, and the battery on the defibrillator used to attempt to shock Cherepanov's heart back to life was drained, the statement said.

    There was a ton of things wrong in this situation. The doctors took 12 minutes to respond, and they didn't have proper technology to revive him. In addition to that, Cherepanov had a medical condition with which he shouldn't have been cleared to play hockey.

    There is also the mystery surrounding why Cherepanov was doping.

    To this day no one knows if Cherepanov was willingly taking steroids to become bigger and more physical or if he was being forced by Avangard's team doctors and staff.

    Nonetheless, this video was one of the most frightening moments in hockey history.

Manny Malhotra Eye Injury

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    Manny Malhotra missed a significant amount of action after suffering a near career-ending eye injury. He was receiving a long cross ice pass, and the puck deflected off his stick and right into his eye.

    When Malhotra dropped to the ice, everything stopped and there was a lot of nervous fans. No one knew how badly he was injured at the time, so there was an obvious cause for concern.

    Fortunately, Malhotra was able to return to action in the playoffs, and he continues to play hockey today.

Eric Lindros Laid out by Scott Stevens

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    This is one moment that almost every hockey fan is familiar with. Scott Stevens is well-known for his physical play and his bone-crushing hits. Eric Lindros was a player who used his skill, size and flash to put up tons of points early on.

    However, during this game, Lindros was leveled by Stevens and obviously injured. This hit changed the complexion of the playoffs and affected the rest of Lindros' career.

    It is something that was pretty scary to watch because anytime a player is knocked out cold, you are going to feel something despite where your allegiances lie.

Mason Raymond Stretchered off Ice

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    Watching this video should make you cringe because Mason Raymond hit the boards in such an awkward fashion. He was hunched over, and it appears he hit his spine in the stanchion connection in the boards.

    The hit was not malicious in anyway, but watching this live was pretty frightening when you take into account that Raymond could barely move after being knocked on his stomach.

Andy McDonald Awkwardly Crashes into the Boards

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    Andy McDonald is a St.Louis Blues forward who took an awkward fall into the boards during this slide.

    McDonald is battling Keith Ballard in a foot race, and then at the last minute he lost an edge and hit the boards hard. When the whistle was blown, there was an awkward silence from the hometown crowd. 

Brooks Orpik Rocks Erik Cole

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    This moment in hockey history was very frightening. Erik Cole gained the zone with the puck, and when he was approximately three feet from the boards, he was checked from behind by Brooks Orpik.

    The hit was uncalled for, and the resulting brawl that took place while Cole was at the bottom of the pile was disgraceful.

    When this happened live, there were some who felt that Cole's neck could have been broken.

Talk About Insult to Injury

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    There are no words to describe this moment. Watch the video and take heed to the warning I issued in reference to the Sami Salo "Balls of Steel" slide.

    Patrick Thoreson of the Philadelphia Flyers took a shot off the nether region, and Mike Green ultimately would get the puck back to score a game-tying-goal.

    This moment really hurts is not easy to watch, especially if you are a guy.

Steve Yzerman Takes a Puck to the Eye

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    There is nothing more terrifying than watching someone suffer an eye injury. Eye sight is often taken for granted. If you have ever been close to going blind or have had you sight impaired, you would understand what I am talking about.

    Steve Yzerman took a puck to the eye after a shot was deflected by a teammate. Yzerman's postseason ended, and he required a lengthy surgery to repair the damage sustained to his face and cornea.

    After "Stevie Y" came back to the NHL, he wisely wore a visor to ensure he wouldn't have a repeat injury. 

Colton Orr Obliterates Matt Cullen

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    This was not a proud moment for the New York Rangers when enforcer Colton Orr took out former Ranger forward Matt Cullen. It was an open-ice hit that was on the border of being legal but was an unnecessary hit.

    Cullen was knocked out cold and was unresponsive at first. Eventually Cullen would respond to team doctors, but he was sidelined with a concussion.

Tie Domi Fights a Fan

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    This is another one of those moments that some may find hilarious. However, moments like this could become very detrimental for the NHL and its integrity. When players and fans can't handle themselves in an orderly manner, it makes the league look bad.

    This moment was a bit scary because what could have happened if Domi had inflicted serious injury on the fan in question? 

Bryan Berard Almost Loses an Eye

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    This clip above does a solid job of explaining how 1997 Calder Trophy recipient Bryan Berard almost lost his eye. During a game against the Ottawa Senators, Berard was struck in the eye with an errant wild stick as a Senator attempted to shoot the puck.

    The ensuing footage is hard to watch, so viewers' discretion is advised.

Patrice Bergeron Knocked out Cold

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    A moment like this is just chilling. Patrice Bergeron was heading to collect the puck, and he ended up out on the ice and knocked out. Randy Jones laid out Bergeron in an attempt to finish his check, but he took things a bit too far.

    Watching Bergeron stretched out on the ice is something chilling and down right scary. 

Trent McCleary Has Wind Pipe Crushed by Puck

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    During a game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens player Trent McCleary dropped down to block a shot. As a result, the puck hit McCleary directly in the throat, crushing his windpipe.

    When he was carried off the ice, he lost consciousness and was rushed to a hospital where he was put on oxygen. 

    Unfortunately, this was the last game of McCleary's career.

Paul Kariya Gets Blind Sided by Scott Stevens

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    Scott Stevens makes another appearance on this list. Paul Kariya had played the puck and dropped it off to a teammate, and then Stevens laid out Kariya with a blatant elbow.

    The hit was late and completely unnecessary considering that the puck wasn't anywhere near Kariya.

    Kariya would never been the same again. Watching this hit is unsettling, and many of the fans were in horror as they watched their leader lay almost lifeless on the ice.

Marc Savard Suffers Career-Ending Injury?

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    To this point, Marc Savard has been sidelined for over a year. He was one of NHL's most talented young centers at the time, and Matt Cooke ended his career.

    Savard's last four seasons saw the young forward post 97, 96, 78 and 33 points in a 41-game season.

    When Savard was carrying the puck into the zone, Matt Cooke blatantly took him out with a cheap shot. Watching Savard lay on the ice is very frightening and chilling considering that he is still sidelined.

    Although Savard eventually returned, he has never been the same, and this hit is something that could effectively impact his career.

The Death of Brittanie Cecil

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    Back in 2002, a young Columbus Blue Jackets fan named Brittanie Cecil died after being struck by a puck in the head.

    When the event happened during the game, it was horrifying and very frightening for the fans in attendance. Her death prompted a huge change in arena safety, and the NHL expanded the safety nets in the arena to better protect fans.

Brendan Shanahan Collides with Mike Knuble

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    On February 19, 2007, an incident occurred in a game between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers.

    As you can see in the video, Mike Knuble collides with Brendan Shanahan, and Shanahan is knocked to the ice. 

    Shanahan looks dazed, and he eventually would be stretchered off. It was a scary moment for Ranger fans because Shanahan was a fan favorite and one of their star players.

The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Tragedy

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    The NHL community wept this past summer for all those lost in the plane crash that carried KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. The plane did not gain sufficient lift and crashed 1.5 miles from the runway.

    On the roster of the team were several former NHL players. Some of the recent NHL players who passed away in this tragedy were Pavol Demitra, Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek, Ruslan Salei, Karlis Skrastins and Alexander Vasyunov. 

    The team's bench boss was Brad McCrimmon, who was a journeyman in the NHL but found success when he won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames.

    This moment will go down as one of the most frightening in NHL history because no one ever thinks that an entire team can be wiped away at one moment.

Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak, Tom Cavanagh and Rick Rypien Tragedies

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    Whenever an NHL player dies, it puts life in perspective. Here is an excerpt from a eulogy I wrote about Boogaard back in May of 2011.

    In light of Derek's death, we the fans need to reflect on this. This was a 28-year-old man. He was in the prime of life and has left a family behind. He will be deeply missed because he was an extraordinary person. He was a charitable man who gave back to his community and his country.

    It is time to realize that hockey is more than a game. It is full of men and women who work their hardest and hate to make mistakes. We should never joke about them in an extremely negative light. We may criticize them to the end of time, but at the end of the day if we laced up a pair of skates, chances are we would't be able to do a better job ourselves.

    It became ever more of a tragedy when the New York Times released a multi-part series detailing Derek's condition. It got worse when news came out that Boogaard's own brother and NHL teams were enabling him with his drug addiction.

    Ultimately, Boogaard's death was a dark day and a frightening moment in hockey history.

    That summer the NHL also lost Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, two players who had battled personal issues and demons, and they ultimately took their own lives. Earlier in the year, young forward Tom Cavanagh of the San Jose Sharks took his own life.

    The deaths of Boogaard, Belak, Cavanagh and Rypien cast a dark cloud over the NHL.

The Death of Bill Masterton

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    Bill Masterton was a player for the California Golden Seals and was one of the first players who died as a direct result from a hockey injury. During a game, Masteron was hit when he had the puck and he would bang his head on the ice.

    Masterton started to bleed, and he eventually was hospitalized and died after suffering a brain hemorrhage. 

Freddy Meyer Collapses

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    This is a moment that no player, coach, fan or referee wants to see happen. Out of nowhere, Atlanta Thrasher forward Freddy Mayer collapsed at center ice. Everything stopped, and there was no telling how injured Mayer could have been.

    Whenever a player collapses on the ice, fans tend to get quiet and hope for the best.

Ondrej Pavelec Collapses

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    One of the reasons the Freddy Meyer collapse at Phillips Arena was met with such shock and horror was because of this moment earlier in the year. 

    Ondrej Pavelec collapsed on the ice roughly over two minutes into a game against the Washington Capitals. It was a very scary incident because Pavelec was out cold and wasn't responding to the team doctors and medical staff.

Ian Laperriere Takes a Puck to the Face

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    This is a moment that just makes you cringe in fear. Ian Laperriere is a hard-nosed player who played the game hard, and moments like this are terrible.

    Laperriere took a hard slapshot to his face, and he started to bleed profusely. Once he knew the extent of his injury, he attempted to skate to the bench so he could receive medical attention.

    This injury would eventually force Laperriere to retire because he would experience post concussion-like symptoms.

Milan Lucic Delivers Devastating Hit

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    Milan Lucic totally decimated Mike Van Ryn during this game back in 2008. The hit was so devastating, he drove Van Ryn through the glass. As you watch the slow-motion replay, you can see the shards of glass crash into Van Ryn.

    It is something that makes you cringe when you think of the sharpness of the glass and the fans who could have been injured.

David Krejci Taken out by Pane of Glass

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    This moment could have really ended badly. While the Boston Bruins were celebrating their victory, the fans were celebrating as well, and the vibration caused from the banging on the glass knocked it loose.

    As a result, the glass crashed down and hit David Krejci in the head and neck. Krejci would eventually be fine, but this was a scary moment when it happened.

Chris Pronger Nailed in the Eye

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    Chris Pronger is one of the toughest NHL players ever, but this was a moment that may have ended his career.

    Mikhail Grabovski went to follow up his shot and attempted to fire a rebound chance on net. In the process, his stick blade went right into Pronger's eye.

    It was not long after this that Pronger was shut down for the rest of the season.

Mike Milbury's "Shoe Incident"

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    In hindsight, some may find this incident amusing, but at the time it was probably very frightening for the fans in the stands. When a hockey player approaches you and looks for a fight, odds are you are wanting to run for the hills.

    When Mike Milbury took off a fan's shoe and started pummeling him with it, there was a genuine cause for concern for how this situation would escalate.

The 2004 Lockout and the Potential for One in 2012

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    This video may be in jest, but in all seriousness the 2004 lockout and the potential of another one occurring in 2012-13 is very frightening.

    The NHL can not sustain or survive another lockout. Revenues are at a record high, ratings are successful and everything just seems to be going better than it did before.

    Fans should be worried that they could miss out on hockey this season because it is the worst-case scenario for any professional sports fan.

Chris Pronger's Heart Stops

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    In 1998 during a St.Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings game, Chris Pronger's heart stopped while blocking a shot. For more on the situation, here is a report published by Helene Elliot back in 1998.

    When St. Louis defenseman Chris Pronger crumpled to the ice unconscious, his heart jolted out of rhythm after he was struck in the chest by a slap shot from Detroit defenseman Dmitri Mironov; players paled in fright. In the midst of what had been a spirited playoff game, which the Red Wings would win, 6-1, Sunday to tie the teams' Western Conference semifinal series at one game each, it was a graphic reminder of how thin a line they skate between triumph and tragedy.

    "I hate to say it, but the last thing on your mind is a hockey game," Marc Bergevin said, still shaken after receiving word Pronger is expected to recover fully but was kept at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital Sunday for overnight observation. "He's a human being laying there. It was scary."

    It was a very frightening moment for Pronger, his teammates, the Red Wings and all others involved.

Claude Lemieux Takes out Kris Draper

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    There has been a ton of blood shed during contests featuring the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche. A lot of that blood shed and animosity stems from this incident during the 1996 playoffs. Kris Draper had his back turned, and Claude Lemieux laid him out.

    This hit changed the landscape of the two teams, rivalries and was a frightening moment for Wings fans as they saw their player down on the ice. 

Jiri Fischer Collapses on Detroit Red Wings Bench

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    During a game back in 2006, Detroit Red Wings player Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench. The game action was going on, and all of a sudden the referee stopped play after Red Wings' bench boss Mike Babcock motioned for the medical staff.

    This happened so quickly that it was scary because whenever a player is unresponsive, you don't know how badly he is injured.