Before any recovery for injury can be obtained through litigation, a prerequisite must be attached to the original action in that there must be a duty owed by the defendant to the injured party (plaintiff). If there is any culpable conduct that is attributable to the injured party (or to the decedent), contributory negligence or assumption of risk is taken into account but does not bar recovery.
Although the assumption of risk is a valid defense in an action in which a hockey player is injured, there are many areas that must be investigated relating to the conduct of the injured party. Issues relating to the duties owed to the participants in the sport by the owner of a hockey rink as to possible defective conditions and the participants' right to obtain redress because of defectively designed equipment must be fully investigated and documented prior to placing fault.
There are many risks assumed by a hockey player. Some of the variables relating to the risks depend upon the exercise of reasonable care, the degree of awareness of the common hazards, and the condition of the rink and its surroundings, as well as the type of protective equipment issued and worn by the player.
As a result of the advances in technology over the last decade, there has been a decrease in the number of injuries. However, even with the new proposal for standard practices for ice hockey playing facilities which was drafted this year, the number of injuries reported will probably remain at approximately the same level unless state-of-the-art technology in bio-mechanics and materials science is applied to established guidelines for the protective equipment of the player and the vertical enclosure surrounding the hockey rink.