Brett Lindros

Perhaps the most frightening injuries in professional sports and especially in hockey is a serious head injury. Brett Lindros, like  his brother of Eric, unfortunately has become the poster boy and spokesman of head injury awareness.

Brett was forced to retire from the New York Islanders in May of 1996 due to a series of serious concussions. Lindros, a rugged 6-foot-3, 220-pound winger, suffered three serious concussions since he turned professional with the Islanders for the 1994-95 season. He also suffered a number of concussions prior to 1994 when he played junior hockey. Although he is not sure how many, doctors estimate he had as many as 5.

Lindros was selected ninth overall in the first round of the 1994 NHL entry draft and signed to an eye-popping five-year, $7.5 million contract. The native of London, Ontario, played in 51 games over two seasons, scoring two goals and five assists and accumulating 147 penalty minutes.

Brett was a high draft pick because of his rugged, bone-crunching style of play. Like his brother, Brett could dominate a game physically. Although he didn't have Eric's offensive and skating abilities, some believe Brett could have been more physically dominant than Eric. Brett, who played right wing, would have had more opportunities to hit people along the boards than Eric, who plays center ice. Also Eric more often than not has the puck while Brett's job would have been to forecheck and to bang bodies.

Unfortunately when you play an overly aggressive style like both of Brett and Eric, you are more likely to get injured yourself. Many hockey players suffer from bad knees or a bad shoulder. But Brett Lindros had to quit a promising NHL career at the age of 20 because he risked serious brain damage if he continued to play.

With each subsequent concussion, it took Brett longer to get back to normal. He said symptoms, including blurred vision, amnesia, impaired balance, nausea, lack of coordination and persistent headaches, became more serious. He said there were occasions this year when he wasn't able to recall playing a shift after returning to the bench.

Lindros' first NHL concussion happend in his rookie season when he was sidelined for 8 games after getting into a fight with Francois Leroux. The next season he suffered two of the concussions the final 8 days of his playing career. The first was on Nov. 16 at Los Angeles, after which he sat out two games, and the next on Nov. 24 at Buffalo, which sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Lindros was examined by four doctors, who all told him that he was becoming progressively susceptible to concussions and that the effect of such injuries is cumulative. Faced with this medical evidence, Lindros said he had little choice but to retire.

"It's every kid's dream to play in the NHL," he said. "My dreams have basically been shattered. I really don't like to think about it, actually. I hate to think about it and talk about it. It's difficult. But I guess on the broader scale of life, I realize that others have bigger problems."

Lindros turned to broadcasting following his playing days. But you know he itches to get back on the ice. It would have been interesting to see the battles of two physically dominating brothers going head to head against each other for many NHL seasons.

1 comment:

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

Progressive injury causes a long term effect on ones mentality. This is often overlooked.

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