911 hockey: major medical advances in NHL bubbles

Among the speakers who will speak during the second edition of this event, which will take place under the theme « Playoff emergencies », we find Dr. David Mulder, the medical director of the Montreal Canadiens, the coach of the Canadiens Claude Julien as well as associate coach Kirk Muller, captain of the Canadiens Shea weber as well as the attackers Brendan Gallagher and Nick suzuki, as well as Dr. Winne Meeuwisse, the NHL’s chief medical officer who led a large team of medical professionals to keep everyone safe in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles in the playoffs last season.

Among the stories to be shared will be the phone call Dr. Mulder received at his Montreal home at 4 a.m. on August 13 from Graham Rynbend, the Canadiens’ chief athletic therapist. The latter called him from the hotel where the team was staying during the playoffs in Toronto.

Julien was experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath in the hours following Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first round against the Philadelphia Flyers. Mulder, who has worked with the Montreal organization since 1963 when he was assistant to Dr. Doug Kinnear with the Junior Canadiens, immediately got to work, more than 550 kilometers east of this bubble.

Rynbend quickly arranged for Julien to be transported to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. It wasn’t long before Mulder spoke on the phone with Dr. David Latter, a cardiac surgeon in St. Michael, who studied with Mulder and who was trained by him at McGill University in Montreal.

Julien was immediately transferred to the cardiac catheterization lab in St. Michael’s, where Latter performed a procedure. Mulder was observing the lab via Zoom video from his home, he who is a world-renowned trauma specialist, as well as a professor of surgery at McGill and the chief surgeon of the division of thoracic and gastrointestinal surgeries. from the McGill University Health Center.

The Canadiens coach underwent an exploratory angiogram, which revealed a severe blockage of a heart artery. This was followed by angioplasty, during which this blockage was cleared, and a stent was installed to keep the artery clear.

“It was an incredible experience for me,” explained Dr. Mulder last week. I could see the stent being installed and blood flow restored. The capabilities of modern technology are simply fantastic. It was an amazing time being in the cath lab with one of my students. « 

Julien’s health was, of course, the focus of concern, but Julien himself and everyone involved in the situation knew that a transport to the hospital almost assuredly meant that the coach could not return behind the bench to the during the series.

“Normally, an episode of chest pain like the one Claude experienced would have resulted in him being quickly transferred to the nearest emergency room for an assessment,” said Mulder. But in her case, going to the hospital meant stepping out of the bubble. This explains the initial reluctance to send Claude to the hospital that evening. « 

Muller took over behind the bench for the remainder of the playoffs, and the Canadiens were eliminated in six games by the Flyers.

Julien’s dramatic experience was just one of the stories that unfolded behind the scenes during the NHL Playoffs. These stories will be told during this conference organized for the benefit of the Montreal General Hospital Foundation. Registration for interactive participation is free, but donations are welcome.

The inaugural edition of Hockey 911 served as recognition for the medical community at the Montreal General Hospital, which has cared for Canadians and their families for decades. The event drew a full house of 450 people to the Montreal Bell Center, where former Canadiens players Serge Savard, Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, Chris Nilan and Trent McCleary, Hall of Fame Coach Scotty Bowman, as well as Mulder and doctors from the Montreal General Hospital told various stories during the evening.

As has been the case with several events since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it seemed at some point that the second edition of Hockey 911 was going to be canceled. But in September, Quebec artist and animator Gregory Charles, an ambassador for the hospital’s foundation, organized a virtual and interactive event on mental health, from the perspective of youth and young adults. This event drew a few thousand attendees, and proved that virtual fundraising can work too.

“Hockey 911 was a huge success for us last year,” said Mulder. The feedback we received from everyone who attended was fantastic – a guy like Scotty Bowman called me later to tell me how important this event had been to him. Getting all of these people together has been equally satisfying, and we’ve raised $ 400,000 for the hospital, which is a very significant amount. So we decided to try a virtual edition this year.  »

Hockey 911 will again be divided into a warm-up period, three periods and an overtime, with interviews to be conducted during intermissions, and a discussion forum that will be accessible to fans. Sponsors have again rallied this cause, while the organizers must compose without selling tickets this year.

Even though Julien has moved on, and is in great health, he assured Mulder that he would be very happy to look back on his experience in the playoffs, in the hope that it can help others.

The health of the coach was not the only challenge for Mulder and the Canadiens during the playoffs. Some positive tests for COVID-19 were noted as training camp began in Montreal, defenseman Christian Folin had to contend with a knee injury in the Toronto bubble that ultimately required intervention, and Gallagher suffered a broken jaw when he was hit by a high stick late in Game 5 against the Flyers.

The League has carried out 33,174 tests for COVID-19 in the nine weeks spent in the bubbles, without identifying a single positive result.

“When you look at everything the NHL has done, it’s very impressive,” said Mulder. They managed to win the Stanley Cup, which is really quite an achievement, as everything evolved from day to day and extreme precautions were taken. The whole schedule, as well as the support the league provided to each of the teams, was sensational. « 

Mulder and the Canadians’ doctors were working remotely, due to the constraints of the coronavirus. A two-week quarantine was required before they could enter the Toronto bubble, away from their hospital and the team, and another similar quarantine would have been required upon their return home. It therefore became more logical to work remotely from Montreal, which posed particular challenges.

Mulder praised the cooperation of Dr. Noah Forman, the medical director of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Innovative breakthroughs were made with a telemedicine system that allowed the Canadiens’ medical team to be available 24 hours a day, in addition to being able to communicate with staff and players, « which represented a tour de force ”.

“The NHL has built an incomparable medical system,” said Mulder. We’re going to be telling stories during Hockey 911 that will show how we managed to get a player tested in the hospital without losing their eligibility in the bubble, which is a real triumph. There was a mechanism in place to protect people who had to come out for an x-ray or a neurological test for a possible concussion. All of these things were thought out so that players didn’t have to leave the bubble. It was just amazing.  »

“We often had Zoom calls that lasted for 30 or 40 minutes after each game, and between games we had virtual meetings with the players. We even did the Canadiens’ end-of-season medical interviews by Zoom from Toronto (at the end of the playoffs). It was really something. This is all that we will be discussing during Hockey 911. It is important for the public to learn how far the NHL has come. This is the story of an incredible success. « 

• Hockey 911 will take place virtually on November 17 starting at 6:30 p.m. EST with the warm-up period, which will be followed by three periods and one overtime, starting at 7:00 p.m. . You can register here: https://www.mghfoundation.com/en/events/hockey-911-2020-edition/

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