Browse Tag: Adam Blanchette

Adam Blanchette Announces Immediate Retirement After Concussion

Hockey is a hard sport. Anyone who’s played at any level can tell you the toll it takes, and the higher level of competition, the more players ask of their bodies.

When a player announces that they are retiring from the sport due to injury sustained in play, it comes like a kick in the gut. Not just because your team has lost a valuable piece of their lineup, not just because an athlete you’ve enjoyed watching is suffering, but because for a moment, you put yourself in their skates. You wonder how it would feel to lose that part of your life.

Adam Blanchettex

Photo: Chris M Photography.

Adam Blanchette sustained a concussion during play against the visiting Dunedin Thunder on Sunday, and while I didn’t see the play in question, I heard about it after the game.

Out of courtesy for the team and Adam’s privacy, I decided not to publish anything about the injury until the Stampede made it public. Injuries can be a tricky business in hockey, and as much as I appreciate being able to inform NZIHL fans about current news, I will never do so at the expense of a player’s private life.

The week dragged on with no word from the Stampede, which left some of us hoping for the best and others fearing the worst.

This morning, Stampede Captain Bert Haines had the following message for the public:

It is with deep hearts that we announce the immediate player retirement of American import Adam Blanchette. Our top defenseman for the past 2 seasons, Adam was recently involved in a physical play, sustaining a knock to the head and subsequent concussion. Unfortunately Adam has suffered a few concussions throughout his career, which has stretched across North America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand.

Adam brought with him to the ice a fierce competitive streak and amazing playmaking abilities. In addition, he also brought a great attitude and personality in the locker room. His presence on the ice will be missed. However, it is with great news that Adam will stay on with the team in a coaching/leadership role to help continue to grow and contribute the Stampede!!

Please take this opportunity to join me in thanking Adam for his contributions as a player (also in coaching junior hockey) and welcoming him as he continues to coach/provide leadership for our team.

Let’s go Stampede!

Bert Haines (Captain) and the Southern Stampede Team Management

That must have hurt to write, and I appreciate the Stampede’s honesty. The link above goes to the Stampede’s Facebook page, where I encourage OTF readers to leave their thoughts and well wishes for Adam Blanchette.

The fact that Blanchette is staying with the team in a leadership capacity is a heartwarming silver lining to a horrible story that I wish I didn’t have to write. Post-Concussion Syndrome is a nightmare for those suffering it and Blanchette is absolutely making the right decision to focus on his own health and safety, even at the expense of hockey.

This continues to be a rough year for the Southern Stampede, who take on the Botany Swarmtonight at Queenstown Ice Arena.

And it will be a rough game for Stampede fans, possibly a weird one, considering how used to Blanchette’s presence we’ve become on the ice. He was particularly visible on the penalty kill during last weekend’s games against the Dunedin Thunder–I recall a particularly triumphant moment where he broke up the Thunder’s play with a skillful poke-check.

Sometimes it’s those little things that stick in your memory–the little signs of a good defensive player who does things right.

I’ll be writing a retrospective piece on Blanchette’s storied career later this week, and I’d encourage anyone who wants to share memories or experiences they had with Blanchette in the NZIHL and AIHL to leave a comment here.

Get well, Adam, and this Stampede fan is glad you’re sticking around in Queenstown. All of our staff at OTF send our regards.

NZIHL Injuries Update – Week 7

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We all know hockey is a rough sport, and the 2014 season’s New Zealand Ice Hockey League injuries are doing a good job of driving that point home so far.

Every South Island team has now lost at least one player to injury. Of those, three players are unfortunately out for the remainder of the season.

Here’s a look at which teams are down players heading into Week 8 of the 2014 NZIHL season:

Southern Stampede

The Stampede have no doubt been bit hardest by the injury bug this year. The Stampede’s season opened with an after-whistle hit on brilliant forward Matt Schneider that left him unconscious. He missed the remainder of that game, which was the second of a double-header against the Canterbury Red Devils. Fortunately for the Stampede, they had a bye the next week and Schneider has told the media that he didn’t sustain concussion symptoms. He didn’t miss any further games.

Next, the Stampede lost star defenseman and AIHL Championship winner Adam Blanchette in their fourth game of the season. Blanchette sustained a suspected concussion and was pulled from the June 22 game against visitors Dunedin Thunder.

Later that week, the Stampede confirmed the worst: not only had Blanchette been concussed,he would be retiring immediately as a precaution. While we all miss seeing Blanchette on the ice, his decision to do what’s best for his health is an admirable one.

The third blow to the Stampede came when they next faced the Botany Swarm up in Auckland: young forward Callum Burns took a friendly fire slapshot to the face which left him with a cut beneath his eye and a broken nose. Burns missed the remainder of that game but returned for the next.

Unfortunately for Burns, when the Stampede took on the Thunder at home in Dunedin, he’d be struck yet again, taken off the ice with a broken wrist. Burns is expected to miss the rest of the season, which is no surprise.

This comes as a particular blow to the already hard-done-by Stampede, as Burns had really stepped up his game this season. He’d already scored 2G and 1A by the time he was injured and was showing visible improvement with each game–and at only 17 years old, against much larger and older competition.

Dunedin Thunder

English-born Matt Enright suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the fifth game of theThunder season during a match against the Red Devils. The forward was the Thunder’s third overall points producer last season. This year he was averaging a goal per game, and though the Thunder are an offensively-stacked team, his loss has still resulted in some necessary line shuffling.

In spite of his broken ankle, Enright has continued to travel with the team and remains very much an active part of the Thunder.

Canterbury Red Devils

While details are sparse and it would be no surprise to anyone if the Devils opted not to disclose how things are looking for now, the Canterbury Red Devils have lost star forward Vladimir Kutny for at least one game.

Kutny was not on the ice against the Botany Swarm for the second of last weekend’s games. Exactly when and how he sustained his shoulder injury wasn’t made clear, but the Devils and their fans are no doubt hoping he’s back in fine form for their upcoming games.

Kutny is a new addition to the Devils line-up this year, hailing from Slovakia and coming to Canterbury on the heels of a career that includes two trips to the World Junior Championships, three years of Canadian play in the QMJHL, and now 14 points in 6 games for the Red Devils.

The Devils presently sit at the top of the NZIHL table, though they seemed to be missing Kutny from the lineup as they struggled last weekend, losing two games to visitors Botany Swarm.

Botany Swarm and West Auckland Admirals

The NZIHL’s two North Island teams have either not lost any players to injury or have not disclosed any. As we head down the home stretch of the 2014 season, let’s hope their luck continues.

All of us here at OTF wish Callum Burns and Matt Enright best of luck for their return to NZIHL play in 2015. They’re important additions to their respective squads and we look forward to seeing them back on the ice. Adam Blanchette meanwhile will make an excellent addition to the Stampede’s coaching staff going forward.

Unless the Devils announce otherwise, we are assuming Vladimir Kutny will be back in the line-up for the Devils as they rematch the Swarm this upcoming weekend.