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18 March
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Remembering Brittanie Cecil

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Today I’m going to share a very sad story with you. Brittanie Cecil’s story is the heart-wrenching story of the only fan to have ever been killed by an errant puck. On March 16, 2002 Brittanie Cecil went to the Blue Jackets vs. Calgary Flames game. During the game Espen Knutsen, a player on the Blue Jackets hit a slap shot toward the goal, but before it got there it was deflected by another player and it shot up into the stands.

It went right for Brittanie and hit her just above her nose. She was a 13 year old hockey fan at her first game. She was excited to be there. She was bleeding from the hit but it didn’t seem that bad, she was able to talk to everyone around her and with a jacket over her nose she was led out of the stadium and was taken to the hospital just to make sure everything was okay.

Once at the hospital they did some xrays, but Brittanie seemed fine. Even joking with her grandfather that she had a cool souvenir from the game, she had kept the puck. But two days later she complained of a headache and things went down hill from there. It was later discovered that she had a torn artery in the back of her neck. It did not show in the xrays that the hospital had taken. A blood clot developed and eventually cut off the blood circulation to the other two arteries to her brain.

The doctors found the problem and repaired it, but it was too late and Brittanie died 2 days after she was hit by the puck and two days before her 14th birthday. The player who hit the puck, Espen Knutsen blamed himself and was never the same. He tired playing for a few more years, but it didn’t really work out for him and after he ran into the boards a little too hard in 2005, he never came back to the game of hockey.

One good thing that came of all this was that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman ruled that before games could start for the 2002 season all arenas must install protective netting behind the nets.

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Sorry to be a downer today, but I thought this brave little hockey fan should be remembered.

text sources: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1025413/index.htm, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1026135/index.htm, http://www.bluejacketsxtra.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/03/21/brittanies-legacy.html?sid=101

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