The objective of this investigation was to determine the incidence, types, and circumstances of injuries that occurred during the 1987/1988 and 1988/1989 hockey seasons. Five hockey leagues, three in the Québec region and two in the Outaouais region, were studied, and over 300 games were observed. Phase 1 consisted of establishing anthropometric (height and weight) and biomechanical (force of impact and maximal skating speed) profiles for each player. Phase 2 consisted of recording the circumstances surrounding each injury. This was accomplished through observers at games as well as through interviews with players after games or, in case of injuries requiring medical intervention in hospitals, through follow-up telephone conversations with seriously injured players. In all cases, information regarding diagnosis, causes, and circumstances surrounding the injuries was recorded on a recording form.
Important variations were found in the height and weight of players, with differences in range reaching 41 cm (16.4 in.) and 47.7 kg (105 lb), respectively. A 357% difference in the force of impact during body checking between the weakest and the strongest player was also observed. In terms of injuries, body checking caused 46.2% of all minor injuries, whereas the stick was responsible for 21%. Contusions were the most frequent type of injuries, whereas major injuries consisted of fractures and sprains. Body checking was identified as the cause of 75% of all major physical trauma recorded during both seasons. Coaches appeared not to be aware of most minor physical impairments of their players.