Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 01.16.09
Stanstead, Quebec


Puck in the head? That explains a lot.

I can't say I'm especially surprised at how much pleasure people have gotten from my getting hit in the head with a hockey puck. Getting hit in the head? That's just good comedy!

Of course, it's only comedy if you're not severely hurt. Anything beyond temporary pain and people are less inclined to laugh. Unless, of course, the puck has to stay embedded in your forehead because surgically removing it would cause irreparable brain damage, resulting in the nickname "Puck Head" -- that would be funny.

What happened was this:

I was at a hockey game taking photos Sunday. I've done this countless times, usually clicking away on the team side of the arena where there's no protective glass.

I realize there are risks involved. But I assured myself that there was about as much chance of getting hit by a puck as getting hit by lightning or Prime Minister Stephen Harper telling a decent joke in my lifetime -- pretty slim.

I'd actually dodged a few lazily arrant pucks in the past and figured I could dodge them in the future. I'm not a kid any more but I'm still wiry.

"Be careful you don't get hit," said a colleague as I assumed my position.

"Ah, don't worry, I do it all the time," I said.

The thing is, when you're looking through the lens of a camera, especially a zoom lens, distance is distorted. By the time my brain registered "Hey, what's that object heading towards my camera," it was already inches away. Sadly, I didn't press the shutter at that moment, which would have made a pretty cool picture.

I like to think that I attempted to duck but it may be that I didn't move at all and that the snapping back of my body that onlookers saw was the equal and opposite reaction of the action of a slap shot caroming off the side of my head.

What I remember next is the visiting coach saying from the bench, "Buddy, are you okay?"

"It's ringing a bit," I said bravely. Ow. Ow. Ow.

By then, in true cartoon comedy style, a lump was rising out of my head. But thankfully, no blood.

"I told you to be careful," said my colleague as I walked by. I blame him.

My head throbbing, I made my way over to the other side of the arena where the nurse was stationed. "Should I put ice on this?" I asked, and offered her my head to feel. Under other circumstances this might have been my way of flirting, but I swear my motives were purely self-preservational.

As I applied ice to my head, she asked me my name, where I was and the date. I went two for three, but then, I never know the date. I realized she was checking for concussion. Symptoms include confusion, nausea, headache, blurred vision, and loss of memory. Unfortunately, this pretty much describes my everyday state of being.

Over the next couple of days, people asked me, "Did I see you get hit by a puck?" Invariably, they asked this with a smile. Like I said, good comedy.

And then there's my family.

When I happened to stumble over some words: "Oh. Dad's slurring his speech. Must be from the puck in the head."

Or: "Be nice, or I'll poke you in your bump."

Or when I caught a falling object in mid-air: "Nice catch, Dad. Hey, maybe when you got hit in the head with the puck, you got super powers and you're like a sort of super goalie." Superhero name: Puck Head, obviously.

Joking aside, I'm glad I wasn't seriously injured and that I'm not suffering any major repercussions like repeating myself repeating myself. I'm also grateful that I can milk this for a few days:

"Dad, my arm hurts."

"Yeah? Does it hurt worse than getting hit in the head with a puck?"

I don't think so.