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A line in the ice for hockey safety

Tom Smith, a former hockey player, has devised a novel way to increase player safety.Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff

Hockey can be dangerous; just ask Tom Smith, who was paralyzed twice playing it. While on the amateur Boston Bulldogs junior team in 2008, he slammed head-first into the boards. He recovered from a neck injury that could have ended his career, only to chip a vertebra in practice a year later.

Smith — who now uses two canes to get around — has devised a novel way to improve safety. The Look-Up Line is a bright orange line that is 1 foot wide and offset from the boards by 2 feet. It alerts players that they are in a potentially dangerous area of the ice. This is a sensible idea that deserves to be adopted across the sport.


The Look-Up Line has been featured at Frozen Fenway, the series of college and high school hockey games now underway in Boston, and at Pingree High School in South Hamilton, where Smith played before he was injured. For Smith, the beauty of the line is that unlike padding the boards — which also stops the puck from bouncing — the line improves safety without disrupting the flow of the game. Some safety improvements are simple but ingenious. This is one of them.