Gordie Howe’s son says talk of dementia is “overblown”

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Gordie Howe’s son Marty admits that his famous father is dealing with memory loss and other issues, but tells Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province that a Canadian Press story detailing the hockey legend’s supposed fight with dementia is “overblown.”

Marty Howe said that the story “made his life a living hell” on Thursday, but he did admit that Gordie’s symptoms could “turn into” dementia. He spoke based on his experience from watching his mother and Gordie’s wife Colleen Howe fight the disease.

“It it was actually dementia, he’d be dead already,” Marty Howe said. “It’s just the way the disease works.”

Marty states that Gordie is doing about as well as one could expect for a man who’s about to turn 84 years old, but also remarked that it’s unlikely that the legend will speak with reporters very often.

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The Canadian Press report’s claims about dementia might be off-base according to Marty, but there were still some relevant takeaways from the article.

More than $16 million has been raised by the Gordie and Colleen Howe Fund for Alzheimer’s, and an upcoming series of golf tournaments across Canada is expected to raise a lot more.

But with all the talk surrounding concussions in the NHL today, Marty doesn’t want his father’s condition automatically linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the same progressive degenerative disease that deceased NHL enforcers Bob Probert and Derek Boogaard were found to have suffered from.

“I don’t think anybody can really answer that question,” Marty said of a connection to CTE. “He went for so long without any symptoms whatsoever. You don’t have to be an athlete or in contact sports to get dementia.”

The risk is that the topic of Howe’s dementia is usurped by the current concussion debate, similar to the way Rick Rypien’s battle with depression was repeatedly attributed to his role on the ice when, to use Marty’s words, you don’t have to be an athlete or in contact sports to get depression.

Here’s a link to the “Help Stick it to Alzheimer’s” golf tournament website.