July 13, 2007
'I'm done with it'Stick-swinging slash to his neck sours Aulin on sport he loves
By ERIC FRANCIS
Jared Aulin was simply looking for a place to enjoy playing hockey again.
Frustrated by a shoulder injury that ended his season in the American Hockey League, the former L.A. Kings forward returned to hometown Calgary ready to give up on his NHL dreams and joined a summer league.
Eight games into a stint in the Non Contact Hockey League's top division, the 25-year-old says he's likely played his last hockey game following a stick-swinging incident that landed him in the hospital with a concussion, swollen carotid artery and a pail full of painkillers.
"I'm done with it, which is sad," Aulin told the Sun prior to asking police to press charges.
"Your health is the most important thing. Thing is, I asked guys before I joined the team, 'do guys get carried away in this league? Next thing I know I get a Marty McSorley-like swing to my neck. It's not the league's fault, but I don't need this."
Witnesses say midway through a 9-4 loss last Tuesday between the Nordiques and Aulin's TH Pirates, a scrum developed that drew the 6-ft., 192-lb. forward into the pack after a teammate allegedly received a Tomahawk chop over the head/shoulder by opponent Quinn Risdon.
As Aulin intervened, Risdon allegedly wielded his stick like a baseball bat and struck Aulin in the neck, sending him to the ice unconscious.
"It was the same motion McSorley had on (Donald) Brashear from behind but this was from the front, shoulder high," said Aulin's teammate Phil Kissel, who claims Risdon waved his stick at a third player.
"It was one of those situations where you see it and blink and wonder 'did that just happen?' It was a little surreal."
Kissel was the first to arrive at Aulin's side, watching helplessly as he convulsed for close to a minute. Rushed to hospital by ambulance, Aulin was told by doctors such damage to the major artery supplying blood to the brain could easily have caused a stroke.
"He's lucky I didn't have anything worse than that," said Aulin of his alleged assailant, who has been suspended indefinitely by the league.
A father of two young boys who is active in his church and community, Risdon politely declined comment yesterday other than to say, "I hope he's OK."
Even in skilled leagues like the NCHL, which has the most stringent of rules against fighting or any transgressions, the threat of incidents like these has long kept avid hockey players on the sidelines.
"The frustrating part is I joke around with everybody out there, but I guess some people get on these ego trips or just lose it," said Aulin, who led the league with 17 goals and 31 points in nine games.
"I don't know if it's because you're in the NHL or if they even knew I played in the league."
A second-round draft pick of Colorado who played 17 games with L.A., the former Kamloops Blazers star has played enough hockey to know where the line is. Others lose sight of it in the heat of battle, forgetting they're still accountable for their actions when they step onto the ice.
"When I used to see incidents in the NHL like this I used to figure they should, handle it within the league itself," said Kissel.
"But after watching that, it's pretty hard not to charge him. Guys who have to get up for work the next morning are out there for a good time and then this happens. When he swings at three guys, you'd have to think there's some thought involved there. Ogie Oglethorpe (of Slap Shot fame) is what it reminded me of.
"It isn't like (Aulin) is some hack from the NHL who is looking to fight -- he's leading the league in points."
And now hospital time.