The death Tuesday of 69-year-old Canadian actor Alan Thicke while he was playing hockey in Los Angeles has raised some debate about the suitability of the sport for the senior set. Above is action this year from a Parksville Panters game

The death of Alan Thicke — is hockey OK for seniors?

Five players over the age of 65 have suffered heart attacks during, or just after, games at Parksville's Oceanside Arena the past five years

Al Greir has watched them fall — and get right back up on their skates.

The death of 69-year-old Canadian actor Alan Thicke this week while playing hockey in Los Angeles has raised questions about the suitability of the game for the senior set.

Greir, a former Parksville city councillor who will turn 80 next year, said he has seen five men suffer heart attacks during or just after games at Oceanside Arena in the past five years.

“We’ve had several of our players go down on the ice or in the dressing room and the defibrillator has saved them,” said Greir. “And they are still playing. They’ve had a stent thrown in and away they go.”

Greir has been part of the September Classic for all of its 16 years. For five years he was the chief organizer of the hockey tournament for the 55-and-over crowd. More than 500 players come to Parksville every year for the event and some players are well past their 80th birthdays.

After Thicke’s death, a cardiologist told The Canadian Press there’s no right age for someone to hang up their skates.

Dr. Todd Anderson, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and a spokesman for the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, said he discourages strenuous activity for people at risk, such as those with heart disease.

But Anderson said he tells healthy patients to enjoy activities such as hockey, as long as they’re not trying to play like they’re 25-years-old.

Greir agreed with that assessment.

“It’s far healthier than it is dangerous,” said Greir. “As long as you’re feeling good and can skate and have fun — that’s what it’s all about. At our age there’s not a lot of fun to be had, but hockey is one of them.”

The first time Oceanside Arena staff used the automated external defibrillator (AED) was in September of 2011. Parksville Golden Oldies hockey player Bernie Diakow, 81 at the time, was saved by the CPR performed on him by a fellow player and arena staff, and then the use of the AED, before paramedics arrived.

Diakow was not only the first person to receive shocks from the AED — he also launched the fundraising campaign to buy the equipment for the Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association (PGOSA).

The B.C. Ambulance Service gave their Vital Link Awards in 2012 to arena staff Mike Chestnut, Charles Stockand, John Marcellus and Clayton Bannatyne for helping saves the life of Diako and two other hockey players over the age of 65.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Some 500 people attend Sidney vigil for victims of Iran airplane crash

All 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians, died when Flight PS752 crashed

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

Victoria’s reconciliation dialogue on newcomers, Indigenous peoples takes place Monday

The third of six discussions on reconciliation will take place at the Crystal Garden

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read