Examples of Excellence: Dr. Chester Griffiths & the LA Kings
by Zara Jethani
For Los Angeles Kings fans, the atmosphere around this year’s playoffs is electric, with the first game of the season on May 2, 2022.
Philosophy of Excellence
Chester Griffiths, MD, FACS, knows all too well the excitement and intensity of ice hockey, and what it takes to create excellence. Now celebrating 20 years with the team, he has been a member of the Kings medical staff since 2002 as their maxillofacial plastic surgeon. During his career with the LA Kings, Dr. Griffiths has received two Stanley Cup rings celebrating their wins and has traveled with the team for the first-ever preseason games played in China as part of the 2017 NHL China Games™ in Beijing and Shanghai.
Maxillofacial surgeons are trained to handle facial trauma as well as a wide variety of conditions and injuries that affect the head, neck, mouth, and jaw. This comes in very handy in such a high-impact sport. Dr. Griffiths has done hundreds of procedures for team players as well as visiting team members and the referees who have been injured during games including the Olympics. And he has even saved a life on the ice.
Hockey is a family affair
It’s a family sport with Dr. Griffiths. As a kid, he played stick ball on the street corner with his brothers in New York. Then when the family moved out to LA, the Kings has just gotten franchised. The young Griffiths brothers got free tickets to watch the games in Inglewood and they began playing, inspired by the excellence of their ice heroes.
In a 2018 interview with the Dr. Hockey podcast with Dr. Jay Calvert, Dr. Griffiths noted, “Since then, it’s been a great part of my life. I love the people that play hockey, I love the people who love hockey, I love the enthusiasm, the grit, the dedication. Hats off to the players. They are supreme athletic competitors. And they’re the nicest group of guys you’ll ever meet!”
Now his son, Chester Jr is walking in his father’s footsteps – or rather skating in his father’s tracks at college. “Everyone on the LA Kings team is there to do a great job, and it’s nice for my son to be around those players and see how they show up,” Dr. Griffiths said.
“My son went to Taft boarding school in Watertown, Connecticut to play ice hockey after playing 7 years of travel ice hockey in California. We continue to play together when he is home from Tulane, where he has traded the ice in the rink for oysters on ice while studying In the Master’s architecture program!”
Dr. Griffiths continues to play adult ice hockey on the Maroons, who have won 8 championships over 12 years.
Hockey and surgery are similar
As an otolaryngology (ENT) – head and neck surgeon, and facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Pacific Neuroscience Institute, Dr. Griffiths is beloved by his patients for his engaging bedside manner, and above all, his clinical excellence. He sees the similarities in his own profession and the hockey players he supports during the NHL season: the dedication and commitment, the hours of rigorous training, the athleticism of being a surgeon leading hours-long surgeries, the high-level performance required regardless of circumstances, and the skill of always having a good attitude. Most important to Dr. Griffiths, is the understanding and appreciation that both hockey and surgery are team sports. The people who support the players are as important as the players themselves to achieve great outcomes. “It’s a team sport – we ALL win.”
Treating facial trauma and game-related issues
Nasal fractures are the number one injury on the ice. Those are dealt with quickly and the players go straight back to play. For other injuries that required stitches, Dr. Griffiths got a bit of a surprise. “Many times they don’t want anesthesia because their faces will get swollen with the anesthesia, so they will just sit there while they’re being sewn up, and that was probably the hardest thing that I had to get over… it was painful for me! Then they get right back out there.”
In 2005, Dr. Griffiths had to deal with something much more severe. Ryan Flynn was knocked unconscious during a game, and he began rapidly turning blue. As an experienced Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist, Dr. Griffiths instinctively discerned the cause of distress, removing the mouth guard which had gotten lodged in the player’s throat. He secured the airway successfully saving Flynn’s life. Now, unlike back then, there are on-ice protocols and emergency physicians at games to deal with extreme issues.
Dr. Griffiths’ passion for hockey and the LA Kings is lifelong, and he is reminded of their shared values each time he looks at his two Stanley Cup rings.
For more information about otolaryngology (ENT) – head and neck surgery, and facial plastic & reconstructive surgery, contact 310-477-5558.
About Dr. Chester Griffiths
Chester Griffiths, MD, FACS, is board certified in Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He has extensive 30-year experience in endoscopic endonasal sinus surgery for skull base tumors and pituitary tumors, sinonasal cancers including mucosal melanomas, and in the treatment of facial and nasal trauma, cosmetic deformities, sinus infections, and disorders of smell and taste. He treats sleep apnea, snoring, difficulty breathing, disorders of the larynx, thyroid tumors, and other head and neck cancers with an emphasis on viral HPV-related cancers.
About the Author
Zara is the marketing director at Pacific Neuroscience Institute. Her background is in molecular genetics research and healthcare marketing. In addition, she is a graphic designer with more than 20 years experience in the healthcare, education and entertainment industries.
Last updated: June 13th, 2022