Sheffield Steelers: Heart victim Dennis Vial skates behind Star campaign

Dennis the menace: Vial in action for Sheffield Steelers in 2000 against Manchester Storm.
Dennis the menace: Vial in action for Sheffield Steelers in 2000 against Manchester Storm.
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HE was one of the toughest sportsmen ever to play in South Yorkshire.

But even the hardest case can be vulnerable to heart problems: just ask Canadian Dennis Vial.

He was an ice hockey enforcer playing 242 NHL games with teams like Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers before joining Sheffield Steelers, for two seasons.

But in his retirement from professional sports, Vial fell victim to a cardiac arrest as he played recreational hockey in his home town in Nova Scotia. He survived thanks to the use of a defibrillator machine to shock his heart after it had stopped.

And now Vial, once the scourge of opposition forwards at Sheffield Arena, is sending a Trans-Atlantic message in support of The Star’s ‘Safety on the Sidelines’ campaign.

Our campaign to provide defibrillators followed the death of Dronfield soccer refRoger Evans, 59.

Thousands of pounds has been raised and organisations like the British Hearth Foundation and St John’s Ambulance have taken a leading role in helping provide more life-saving kits across the region.

Vial, 43, said: “I’d love to support your campaign to fit recreational facilities with automatic defibrillators. I have been reading about the campaign and am wholeheartedly behind it. Having a heart attack is a life or death thing - and the difference between the two can be a simple piece of equipment. Here in Canada, we have them at all the rinks and recreational facilities. It is great to hear that grassroots football grounds around Sheffield - a city I will always be fond of - are getting them courtesy of this campaign.

“I experienced a heart-attack playing hockey in October. I was minutes from dying. The fact the rink was equipped with the Automatic External Defibrillator saved me.”

You can donate through PayPal (www.hides.force9.co.uk/rogerevans) or pledge funds to ref.rog@hotmail.com. Cheques to R Evans can be sent to Alfred Dunham, Funeral Directors, 56 Snape Hill Lane, Dronfield, S18 2LG. Email ref.rog@hotmail.com