Hockey league to improve safety in light of 2013 death of 16-year-old player

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has unveiled extensive changes to player safety protocols, and issued an apology for releasing information “lacking in accuracy,” four years after the sudden on-ice death of a 16-year-old prospect from Nova Scotia.

League commissioner Gilles Courteau apologized to the family of Jordan Boyd, who was taking part in a drill during August 2013 tryouts with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in New Brunswick when he collapsed and couldn’t be revived.

An autopsy later revealed that Boyd had an undiagnosed heart condition known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.

Courteau, who also announced enhanced staff training and player screening during a news conference in Halifax, didn’t specify what information was inaccurate.

“After reviewing the process that has been in place the Boyd family deserves an apology from me as the league commissioner,” said Courteau.

A news release from the league office later said that at the time of Boyd’s death it had stated that the league had a written policy on how to deal with player emergencies and it was satisfied that the policy was followed “to the letter.”

“As a result of this review and information that was discovered, it became clear to the league that critical first aid readiness needed to be improved upon. For example, an AED (automatic external defibrillator) that is easily accessible and fully functional should be available at all times, which might not have been the case for Jordan.”

Jordan’s father, Stephen Boyd, said the family was satisfied that it has had a “constructive dialogue” with the league in the past couple of years.

“We are very satisfied with the changes that they have announced today and really for us that’s the absolute most important thing, that changes to the safety protocol have been put in place which we know are going to benefit players,” he said.

Courteau said all teams are now required to have at least three staff trained in life-saving techniques including the use of defibrillators, which must be present at all team events including games and practices.

He said prior to training camp, players would also be required to fill out more in-depth health questionnaires and would be subject to more extensive physical examinations.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Gilles Courteau’s surname.

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