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BACKGROUND: Research is limited investigating injuries/illness incidence among National Hockey League (NHL) players. This study sought to establish injury/illness incidence, initial versus subsequent injury risk among NHL players, and determine temporal trends of injury and illness incidence. HYPOTHESIS: Variations in injury incidence by body region, and initial versus subsequent injury would be observed among positions. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. METHODS: Publicly available data were utilized. NHL players 18 years or older between 2007-2008 to 2018-2019 were included. Injury and illness was stratified by position and body segment. Incidence rate (IR), and initial versus subsequent injury and illness risk ratios were calculated. Temporal trends were reported. RESULTS: Nine thousand, seven-hundred and thirty four injuries and illnesses were recorded. Centers had the highest overall IR at 15.14 per 1000 athlete game exposures (AGEs) (95%CI:15.12-15.15) and were 1.4 times more likely to sustain a subsequent injury compared to other positions. The groin/hip/thigh was the most commonly injured body region with an IR of 1.14 per 1000 AGEs (95%CI:1.06-1.21), followed by the head/neck (0.72 per 1000 AGEs, 95%CI:0.66-0.78). Combined injury and illness IR peaked in 2009-2010 season at 12.01 (95%CI: 11.22-12.79). The groin/hip/thigh demonstrated peak incidence during the 2007-2008 season (2.53, 95%CI:2.17-2.90); head/neck demonstrated a peak incidence in 2010-2011 season (Overall: 1.03, 95%CI:0.81-1.26). Injuries reported as 'lower body' increased over time. CONCLUSIONS: Positional differences were observed; centers demonstrated the highest overall IR, and subsequent injury risk. Injury by body region was similar to previous literature. Head/neck and concussion decreased over time supporting rule changes in body checking and visor wear. Clinicians should be aware that 'lower body' injuries increased over time; therefore, injuries to the groin/hip/thigh or knee are likely underreported. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level 3.

Original publication




Journal article


Int j sports phys ther

Publication Date





215 - 226


Ice Hockey, Injury surveillance, Professional Hockey