Pat Lafontaine

Talking about concussions — a collection of quotes

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This post is part of a series looking at the issue and impact of concussions in the NHL. ProHockeyTalk and Comcast SportsNet are featuring pieces today as a lead-in to tonight’s special edition of NHL Live on Versus (6:30 p.m. EST.)

Concussions are hardly a new phenomenon in the NHL. As such, we decided to look back at what’s been said and written on the topic of head injuries throughout the years.



“My first season Butch Bouchard accidentally sent me to the hospital for three days with a concussion, but I never backed away from Butch or anyone else after I came back.” – former Red Wings player Ted Lindsay (Sports Illustrated, March 18, 1957)

“As a result of [a] concussion, I now wear a protector on the back of my head, too.” – former NHL goalie and current Carolina GM Jim Rutherford (Sports Illustrated, Feb 12, 1973.)

“Three times it happened and I was never asked any questions. The question was ‘are you OK?’ Yeah, I’m OK. Well, get back out there.’ That was the way it was handled back then.” — former NHL player Mike Bossy on how concussions were treated in the 1970s and 1980s (Brockville Recorder and Times, Sep 28, 2011)

source: Getty Images


“I would walk into a room, and he would be crying. He cried a lot. Or he would be holding his head from the migraine headaches. They were terrible. He wouldn’t leave the house for a week. He wouldn’t change his clothes, wouldn’t shower. It was all the classic signs of depression. I thought he was having a nervous breakdown.” — former NHL player Pat LaFontaine’s wife, Marybeth (Sports Illustrated, Dec 1, 1997)

“Every time you sustain a head injury, the risk gets higher and higher. I always said that if there ever was a point where the risk was more than minimal, I would stop playing.” — LaFontaine upon his retirement (Chicago Tribune, Aug 12, 1998)

“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had no residual effects whatsoever. I got out just in time.” – LaFontaine (Sports Illustrated, Nov 29, 2004)

”Force equals mass times acceleration. The larger the mass, the faster the acceleration, the greater the force. The greater the force, the greater the potential for injury. If the forces are going up, common sense would tell you that the potential for injury is increasing unless you decrease the risk for whatever reason. Unless you can decrease the force or absorb the force, chances are your injury rates are going to go up.” – Penguins physician Dr. Gordon Burke (New York Times, March 22, 1998)

“I was well-rounded, I’d been to college. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do anything else. I wanted to stay in sports, but if I couldn’t think, how was I going to play?” – Paul Kariya on worrying about how his brain was functioning while experiencing post-concussion syndrome (Sports Illustrated, Oct 19, 1998)

“At our scouting meetings, when we finalize the list [of potential draftees], I specifically ask our scouts, ‘Anybody on the list with a history of concussions?’” – Pierre Gauthier, then Anaheim’s GM (Sports Illustrated, May 17, 1999)


“Having these concussions hanging over him has to be scary for Eric.” – former Flyers coach Roger Neilson on Eric Lindros (Sports Illustrated, Jan 31, 2000)

“What scares me is how easily it happened,” former Flyers forward Mark Recchi on yet another Lindros concussion (Sports Illustrated, Jan 31, 2000)

“I might have practiced stick-handling with my head up a bit more.” – Lindros, upon retirement, joking about what he’d do differently if he could start his career over (Toronto Star, Nov 9, 2007)

“Once the game is gone it doesn’t mean that your concussion symptoms are gone. You still have a long life you need to live, and I’m living proof of that.” – former NHL player Keith Primeau (Yahoo! Sports, Dec. 16, 2011)

“We can no longer ignore the stupidity of the hits that are still happening today despite the fact that the players know the concussion aspect is such a big part of the game and sports in general.” – former NHL player Jeremy Roenick (, Dec 14, 2011)

source: AP


“It was the kind of light blow that is exchanged without notice or consequence hundreds of times in a game.” – former NHL goalie Ken Dryden on David Krejci’s hit that likely led to Sidney Crosby’s latest setback (Grantland, Dec 14, 2011)

“It didn’t feel like it was anything too major, but if you had to look at one hit that would be it.” – Crosby on the Krejci hit (, Dec 14, 2011)

“I think you always have them in the back of your head. You always have it sitting there. You never know going into a hit or anything, you could have another concussion. It does get scary.” – Chicago forward Dave Bolland (, Dec 16, 2011)

“Any time you see somebody have to deal with a career-threatening thing, it really does concern you. You think about his family and what it’s like for them, what they’re going through.” – Penguins forward Chris Kunitz on news that Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger would miss the rest of the season with a concussion (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Dec. 16, 2011)

“He didn’t tell the trainer he had his bell rung. He kept it from us. Now he’ll be out for however long it takes.” – Leafs coach Ron Wilson on Colby Armstrong hiding his concussion from the team (Globe and Mail, Dec. 19, 2011)

Sens match season-high for goals, beat Dallas 7-4

Bobby Ryan, Antti Niemi
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DALLAS (AP) Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored two third-period goals and the Ottawa Senators held off the Dallas Stars for a 7-4 victory Tuesday night.

Ottawa was outshot 37-20 but scored three unassisted goals after takeaways, one on the power play and another short-handed, by Pageau.

Craig Anderson made 33 saves in his third straight win, including two shutouts. He had his scoreless streak snapped at 147:04, when Patrick Sharp scored in the second period.

Pageau scored on two breakaways, including his league-leading third short-handed, and added an assist. He has six goals this season.

Dallas goalies Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen combined to make only 13 saves.

The Senators’ Mike Hoffman also had two goals, one into an empty net. Mark Stone had a goal and two assists. Bobby Ryan and Milan Michalek also had goals.

NHL leader Jamie Benn scored his 15th and 16th goals for Dallas. Benn assisted on Tyler Seguin‘s goal.

The Senators are 4-0-2 in their last six games. Dallas’ loss ended the Stars’ five-game winning streak.

Ottawa didn’t have a shot on goal for the first 7:10, but its attempt went in for a 1-0 lead. Ryan took away the puck in the left faceoff circle, skated in front of Niemi and tucked the puck into the right corner.

Michalek scored at 18:49 of the first period for a 2-0 lead. Stone won a battle along the left-wing boards, and the puck went to Pageau. He passed to Michalek in the center of the left circle, and Michalek sent a wrist shot past Niemi into the upper right corner.

Sharp finally got to Anderson at 7:04 of the second. Cody Eakin tapped a pass ahead to Sharp, who sent a slap shot past the goalie.

The Senators regained a two-goal lead, when Stone intercepted a pass from the Stars’ Patrick Eaves at the blue line, stepped to the top of the slot and scored on a wrist shot at 12:33.

Lehtonen then replaced Niemi, who had allowed three goals in nine shots. The first shot Lehtonen faced was Hoffman’s goal from the top of the left circle on the power play.

Niemi re-entered the game at 1:05 of the third period, after Lehtonen made two saves. On the first shot Niemi faced, he allowed a short-handed breakaway goal by Pageau on a shot that trickled between the goalie’s legs.

Benn scored on a short-handed breakaway at 6:07. Just 1:57 later, Seguin scored from the right circle.

NOTES: Ryan has at least one point in nine straight games (4 goals, 7 assists, 11 points). … Anderson came into the game with two shutouts in a row after an overtime loss. … Dallas D Jason Demers (lower-body injury) was scratched from the lineup, but D Jordie Benn returned after missing Saturday’s game because of illness. … The Stars’ John Klingberg took the NHL lead with his 20th assist on Sharp’s goal. He and Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, who assisted on Hoffman’s goal, are 1-2 in scoring among the league’s defensemen. . Dallas had won the previous seven games against the Senators.

Coyotes GM ‘called right away’ on Hamonic

Don Maloney
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You can add Arizona to the list of teams that tried to get in on the Travis Hamonic sweepstakes.

“[He’s] a talented player,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said, per the Arizona Republic. “We certainly called right away, but we do not have a good fit for them right now.

“That’s the bottom line. They’re looking for a ready-made complement player.”

Hamonic, who requested a trade out of New York, is garnering plenty of interest across the league. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported five clubs — Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado and Minnesota — were in the mix, with Sportsnet floating potential trade chips like the Jets’ Jacob Trouba, and the Flames’ T.J. Brodie.

It’s unsurprising the Coyotes didn’t have a fit for Isles GM Garth Snow.

It’s hard to imagine — nearly impossible, really — to think Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be on the move, and the rest of the Arizona defense is comprised of unheralded youngsters (Michael Stone, Connor Murphy) or grizzled vets (Nicklas Grossmann, Zbynek Michalek).

But Maloney’s remarks are still noteworthy, because he more we hear about the Hamonic situation, the clearer the asking price gets.

Related: Hamonic willing to finish season with Isles

Star struck: Sens chase Niemi after three goals on nine shots (Update: And now he’s back)

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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Bet Antti Niemi misses playing Buffalo.

Niemi, who stopped 46 of 47 shots in back-to-back wins over the Sabres last week, was hooked during Tuesday’s game against the Senators after allowing three goals on nine shots.

In Niemi’s defense, tonight’s goals weren’t exactly his fault.

John Klingberg coughed up the puck badly on Bobby Ryan‘s opening tally…

And on Ottawa’s second goal, Jyrki Jokipakka lost a board battle moments before Milan Michalek snapped one home:

The Sens’ third marker also came on a turnover.

Update: Well, this is quite the night for Dallas netminders. Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi, allowed a goal, then got hurt in this collision with Klingberg, which forced him from the game and Niemi back into action.

Foley aware of Seattle reports, but says Vegas is ‘proceeding as if we will play in 2017’

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
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Bill Foley, the man behind Las Vegas’ prospective NHL expansion team, says he knows about reports claiming the league is keeping an eye on a proposed Seattle arena.

He also says he isn’t going to worry about things out of his control.

“I’m aware of what’s going on (in Seattle) but in my communication with the league, our situation isn’t dependent on third parties,” Foley said Tuesday, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We believe we’re in good shape and we’re proceeding as if we will play in 2017.”

Over the weekend, a Seattle Times piece suggested the NHL had yet to award Vegas or Quebec City an expansion franchise because the league is “avoiding any expansion decision until after an upcoming Seattle City Council vote likely to decide the fate of Chris Han­sen’s proposed Sodo District arena.”

The piece also suggested Seattle could be granted an expansion club for the 2018-19 campaign.


That vote, on granting Hansen part of Occidental Avenue South for his arena, is expected by January. No one knows how it will go, only that the lead-up should be politically charged and fiercely contested.

But passing it — future legal appeals notwithstanding — paves the way for Hansen to obtain his Master Use Permit and have his arena “shovel ready” should he choose to build.

And that means, once a vote passes, it’s entirely possible the NHL could conditionally award Seattle an expansion team.

To his credit, Foley remains solely focused on his Vegas bid — not what potential rival bids could bring to the table. And while he confirmed he has yet to be invited to the Dec. 7 NHL Board of Governor’s meeting in Pebble Beach, he re-iterated his only objective is to strengthen Sin City’s case for a hockey team.

“I’m focused on trying to find a place to build our practice facility,” he said. “I’m focused on the new arena and our fans who’ve put down deposits on season tickets.”