Kevin Stubbington, 56, a Windsor minor hockey coach and former referee-in-chief, came up with the idea of putting the familiar hexagonal STOP sign on the back of hockey sweaters.
The idea was to remind players while they are on the ice not to check from behind because such checks had proven to be a primary cause of some paralyzing spinal cord injuries. He introduced his idea in Windsor in 1996 and now STOP signs can be seen on hockey sweaters across Canada and beyond. Kevin says STOP stands for “Safety Towards Other Players”.
Stubbington’s common sense initiative, along with hockey rule changes and other education programs, has resulted in a reduction in catastrophic spinal cord hockey injuries. Of course nobody can say exactly how many serious injuries have been avoided by any particular initiative. But Doc Pashby, whose name the Award honours, always said, “If we can prevent one person from ending up in a wheel chair, or one blind eye, all our work will be worthwhile.”
“Dad would be thrilled to see Kevin win The Pashby Award,” said his son Dr. Bob Pashby now president of The Pashby Fund. “Kevin is the grass roots kind of guy Doc envisioned someday winning this award. He never thought of it as being just for doctors or those engaged in health care fields. I just hope Kevin winning the Pashby Award inspires other people in other sports to put on their thinking caps and come up with other good ideas to prevent catastrophic injuries.”
Murray Costello, then president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, now chairman of the International Ice Hockey Federation Medical Committee recalls Stubbington bringing the STOP sign idea to him. “I didn’t know if it would work,” Costello remembers, “but we definitely wanted to educate pursuing players not to hit from behind. I told him to take it to his local association and the rest is history. I congratulate him on winning the prestigious Pashby Award.”