The death Tuesday of 69-year-old Canadian actor Alan Thicke while he was playing hockey in Los Angeles has raised some debate about the suitability of the sport for the senior set. Above is action this year from a Parksville Panters game

The death of Alan Thicke — is hockey OK for seniors?

Five players over the age of 65 have suffered heart attacks during, or just after, games at Parksville's Oceanside Arena the past five years

Al Greir has watched them fall — and get right back up on their skates.

The death of 69-year-old Canadian actor Alan Thicke this week while playing hockey in Los Angeles has raised questions about the suitability of the game for the senior set.

Greir, a former Parksville city councillor who will turn 80 next year, said he has seen five men suffer heart attacks during or just after games at Oceanside Arena in the past five years.

“We’ve had several of our players go down on the ice or in the dressing room and the defibrillator has saved them,” said Greir. “And they are still playing. They’ve had a stent thrown in and away they go.”

Greir has been part of the September Classic for all of its 16 years. For five years he was the chief organizer of the hockey tournament for the 55-and-over crowd. More than 500 players come to Parksville every year for the event and some players are well past their 80th birthdays.

After Thicke’s death, a cardiologist told The Canadian Press there’s no right age for someone to hang up their skates.

Dr. Todd Anderson, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and a spokesman for the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, said he discourages strenuous activity for people at risk, such as those with heart disease.

But Anderson said he tells healthy patients to enjoy activities such as hockey, as long as they’re not trying to play like they’re 25-years-old.

Greir agreed with that assessment.

“It’s far healthier than it is dangerous,” said Greir. “As long as you’re feeling good and can skate and have fun — that’s what it’s all about. At our age there’s not a lot of fun to be had, but hockey is one of them.”

The first time Oceanside Arena staff used the automated external defibrillator (AED) was in September of 2011. Parksville Golden Oldies hockey player Bernie Diakow, 81 at the time, was saved by the CPR performed on him by a fellow player and arena staff, and then the use of the AED, before paramedics arrived.

Diakow was not only the first person to receive shocks from the AED — he also launched the fundraising campaign to buy the equipment for the Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association (PGOSA).

The B.C. Ambulance Service gave their Vital Link Awards in 2012 to arena staff Mike Chestnut, Charles Stockand, John Marcellus and Clayton Bannatyne for helping saves the life of Diako and two other hockey players over the age of 65.

Just Posted

Oak Bay man designer behind Canucks’ retro jersey

Jeremie White was 20 years old when he told Canucks assistant GM Brian Burke he had a design

BC Farmers’ Market Trail a one-stop virtual guide to the goods

New website assembles, profiles 145+ farmers’ markets throughout B.C.

Westshore Rebels game postponed due to poor air quality conditions

Games expected to continue the following week

Saanich police investigating sexual assault in broad daylight

Social media lit up with accusations incident took place at Regina Park tent city

Swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Most Read