An absolutely terrifying moment from the world of hockey: Ronny Keller, a defenseman for Olten in the Swiss League, was paralyzed as a result of a hit from behind. Just a fair warning that the video above is difficult to watch.
According to Swiss Paraplegic Centre doctor Michael Baumberger, Keller sustained "permanent spinal paralysis" due to the damage to his fourth thoracic vertebra (via AP).
The one bit of good news is that Keller didn't suffer any head or brain injuries according to the doctor. That's very little consolation, but it's still a positive; at least his brain function wasn't impaired.
The hit came in a race for the puck toward the end boards in overtime of a playoff game. Keller was pushed from behind by Langenthal's Stefan Schnyder, sending Keller head-first into the boards. It was a brutal hit and Schnyder has been questioned by police while the league investigates, according to Swiss media.
It's a safe bet this is the last game Schnyder will play for a long time, if he plays again.
This is the fear every time you see a player hit from behind. There's a reason the NHL is working so hard to get rid of these hits; they're incredibly dangerous. The players are bigger, faster and stronger than ever and these hits are even more punishing and dangerous now than they were years ago when they were a bit more common in the game.
Then again, it wouldn't matter what era this happened in, it would be be unacceptable. Hits like this have absolutely no place in hockey and this is the perfect example of why. It's absolutely frightening to watch that video and see Keller crumple into the boards.
You might recall this is the second instance of a player being paralyzed in recent years from a hit into the boards. Minnesota high school player Jack Jablonski was left paralyzed after a hit in a game. His story has been well documented in North America.
Please, young hockey players out there, if you see a player's number on the back of their jersey, just don't hit them, especially when you're nearing the boards.
S/t to Hockey Webcast