Whether you agree or disagree with the lawsuit that’s been brought against the NHL by former players who continue to struggle with symptoms related to concussions, it’s hard to read this account by Dan LaCouture in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and not feel sympathy.
LaCouture, 37, played 337 games in the NHL with six different teams. While in the league, he was no stranger to dropping the gloves.
I have debilitating headaches, nausea and motion sickness every day. I am always irritable. And with recent studies showing the shattering illnesses linked to traumatic brain injury, along with the recent news of National Hockey League legend Stan Mikita’s unfortunate battle with dementia, I fear worse symptoms are yet to come.
My most serious concussion occurred in 2004 during a game at Madison Square Garden when I jumped into a fight to defend a Rangers teammate who had been hit from behind. During the brawl, my helmet slipped off and I split my head open on the ice as another player landed on top of me. The next thing I remember was being lifted off the ice by teammates and trainers. I got some stitches but never received an MRI, a CAT scan or serious medical treatment of any kind.
Things have changed in the relatively short time since then. There’s more awareness now, and head injuries are treated more seriously.
But this case isn’t about the present. LaCouture alleges that the NHL “for years denied the link between hits to the head and devastating neurological disorders,” and also that the league “concealed information from players.”
That’s the key element in all this — concealment.
The NHL, obviously, disagrees with that particular allegation.