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.

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(NHL.com)

“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

(Getty)

“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)

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“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 (NHL.com, Dec 14, 2011)

source: AP

(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 (CSNNE.com, 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 (CSNChicago.com, 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)

Penguins’ Kris Letang returns to practice 10 days after stroke

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to practice with his teammates just 10 days after suffering the second stroke of his career.

The 35-year-old Letang remains out indefinitely, with the club describing him as “day to day.”

Letang said he felt “pretty good” after being greeted by stick taps from his teammates when he skated onto the ice at the team’s practice facility. Still, the married father of two called the experience “scary,” particularly for his family.

“My kids, they don’t care if I’m a hockey player or not,” he said. “They care about having a dad. Same with my wife. She could care less about hockey. She knows there’s so much more. After hockey, there’s a long time and you want to be able to enjoy those moments with your family, with your kids.”

Letang missed more than two months in 2014 after his first stroke, which was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. The condition also led to the second stroke, which Letang suffered on Nov. 28 after dealing with a series of debilitating headaches.

This time, the symptoms have resolved themselves much more quickly, according to team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, who described this stroke as “smaller” than the one Letang endured in 2014.

Letang began skating on his own just two days after the diagnosis and was cleared to return to practice on Thursday though both Letang and Vyas stressed they are in no rush for him to play in games.

“We don’t think this is accelerated in any way,” Vyas said. “We are taking all the right precautions to make sure that it is safe to go out and play and when that time comes we’ll let him go back to playing his sport.”

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said it was a “relief” to see Letang back at work.

“It’s a great visual that he’s making progress,” Sullivan said. “Our medical team that has monitored him extremely closely feels comfortable with some of the progress that he’s making and the steps he’s taken. Everyone was excited for him to join the group.”

Letang signed a six-year contract extension over the summer that will carry him into his 40s if he decides to play that long. Vyas said the data around strokes is “evolving” though it is unclear if Letang is now more susceptible to having additional strokes now that he’s had a second one.

The six-time All-Star is cautious but optimistic.

“We’ve been through this,” Letang said. “Me and Dharmesh have a clear understanding that we’re going to take all the time we need and make sure the research is possible and it’s no danger for me to keep going.”

The Penguins are 8-1-1 over their last 10 games and have won three straight heading into a home-and-home series with the Sabres. They’re also eager to have Letang’s familiar No. 58 back in the lineup, but only when he’s ready.

“He’s been here for a long time and his experience and everything that he brings on and off the ice, the way he competes (is important),” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “But I think in the (locker) room, (he has) poise and (he’s) somebody who’s been around a long time and whose experience you feel when he’s around.”

Thompson nets 4 in 1st, 5 overall, as Buffalo tops Columbus

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tage Thompson matched an NHL record by scoring four times in the first period and finished with five goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight road game, 9-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

Thompson is the second U.S.-born player to score five goals in a game. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record four goals in the first period of a regular-season game, joining Peter Bondra (1994), Grant Mulvey (1982) and Joe Malone (1921). He is also the fourth active player to score five goals in a game, joining Timo Meier (Jan. 17, 2022), Mika Zibanejad (March 5, 2020) and Patrik Laine (Nov. 24, 2018).

“It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You’ve spent a lot of years working to get to this point and to be rewarded for it is a pretty good feeling and it just leaves you hungrier.”

Thompson’s outburst helped Buffalo score six times in the first 16:40.

“That was an amazing performance by Tage, and really, the whole group set the table,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought the energy, the collective effort, the focus to start was really good and enabled that to happen.”

Alex Tuch had a goal and three assists, Dylan Cozens added a power-play goal and two assists and Rasmus Dahlin finished with a goal and two assists. Peyton Krebs also scored. Jeff Skinner picked up four assists and Jacob Bryson had two. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 20 shots.

Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist each scored twice for Columbus.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped two shots before being pulled in the first in favor of Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 15 shots through the second period. Korpisalo returned in the third and finished with six saves.

Columbus has lost six straight home games and five of its last six overall.

“We didn’t have an answer for that one line,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Tage Thompson just tore us up tonight.”

Buffalo dominated from the puck drop, scoring four goals on its first six shots.

Cozens put the Sabres on the board at 3:21 of the first, 53 seconds into a Blue Jackets penalty, and Thompson made it 2-0 just 2:09 later. Dahlin scored Buffalo’s third goal at 7:28 of the first, driving Korpisalo from the net in favor of Merzlikins, who gave up Buffalo goal No. 4 to Thompson 32 seconds later.

Thompson’s third career hat trick and second of the season came on a power-play goal at 12:22 of the first. He followed with his fourth goal, also on the power play, at 16:40.

Columbus scored two goals in just over a minute, with Laine at 10:49 and Nyquist at 12:04, before Buffalo reeled off three straight in just over three minutes to end the period, including Thompson’s fifth, and goals by Krebs and Tuch.

Laine and Nyquist scored in the third period for Columbus.

STREAKING

Cozens has 12 points in his last five games and is riding a career-best, five-game point streak. Thompson has eight goals and five assists in his last five games and 10 multi-point games. Dahlin has a five-game point and assist streak, and Gaudreau stretched his points streak to six games.

NOTES: The Sabres joined the Kraken as the second team this season to score nine goals in a game. … Thompson is the second player in Buffalo history to have five goals in a game, joining Dave Andreychuk, who had five goals and an assist on Feb. 6, 1986.

UP NEXT

Buffalo: Hosts Pittsburgh on Friday.

Columbus: Hosts Calgary on Friday.

Ovechkin, Strome lead Capitals past struggling Flyers 4-1

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PHILADELPHIA — Alex Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals, Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night.

T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals, who finished 3-3 on a six-game trip. Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia, which has lost 13 of 15 games. Carter Hart made 23 stops.

Strome broke a 1-all tie with 10:41 remaining when he deflected John Carlson‘s shot from long range past Hart.

Hayes had a golden opportunity to tie it on a Philadelphia power play, but Lindgren made a great right pad save on a try from close range with 8:20 remaining.

Ovechkin iced it, scoring into an empty net with 1:35 left and adding another empty-netter with 8.2 seconds left for his 15th of the season. Ovechkin has 795 career goals, good for third all-time. He is six goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky, with 894 goals, tops the list.

Hayes scored his ninth goal of the season for his team-leading 28th point with 4:14 left in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Hayes rushed to the bench after breaking his stick on a slap shot attempt, and scored on a wrist shot from the high slot with his new stick.

The Flyers had a power-play goal for the third straight game and have four overall in that stretch. Philadelphia, which began play ranked 30th in the NHL in scoring on the man advantage, now has converted 16.7% (14 of 84) of its chances.

Oshie tied it 3:51 into the second on the Capitals’ fourth power play as the Flyers continued to take sloppy penalties. This time, James van Riemsdyk committed Philadelphia’s third tripping minor of the game. Oshie made them pay with his fifth goal of the season when he finished a nifty passing sequence with Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov with a perfectly placed one-timer over Hart’s left shoulder.

NOTES: Van Riemsdyk returned after missing the last 20 games due to a broken right index finger. . Flyers forward Tanner Laczynski was placed on injured reserve after departing midway through the third period of Monday’s 5-3 win over Colorado with what looked like an injury to his left leg. . Washington was without several injured players, including starting goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body). Kuemper was with the team, but missed his second in a row. . Carlson had two assists. . Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, out all season with an upper body injury, has been practicing and is close to returning.

UP NEXT

Capitals: Host Seattle on Friday night.

Flyers: Open four-game trip at Vegas on Friday night.

Penguins prospect Sam Poulin taking leave of absence

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins forward prospect Sam Poulin is taking a leave of absence from the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Penguins general manager Ron Hextall announced on Wednesday that the 21-year-old Poulin, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2019 draft, is stepping away due to “personal reasons.”

“The Penguins support Sam’s decision to take time away from hockey to focus on himself,” Hextall said in a release. “As with all of our players, our priority is them as individuals first. We look forward to having him back with the team when he is ready.”

Hextall said Poulin will return home to Quebec and continue to work out on his own.

Poulin made his NHL debut in October and had one assist in three games before heading back to the AHL. Poulin had four goals in 13 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the time of his decision.