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Former NHL Player Posthumously Diagnosed With CTE

Former NHL player Greg Johnson has been posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Johnson Diagnosed With CTE

CTE is a brain-withering disease linked to repetitive brain trauma in contact sports. The disease cannot be diagnosed until an individual has already died. Johnson committed suicide by gunshot in July 2019.

Johnson’s family and the Concussion Legacy Foundation announced the diagnosis on Wednesday.

The NHL Has Yet To Acknowledge A Connection Between the Disease And Brain Trauma

The family and the foundation used the announcement as an opportunity to encourage the NHL to acknowledge the risk and do more to protect the players.

“I had no idea what CTE even stood for when my dad took his life,” Carson, Johnson’s daughter, said in a statement released by the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “Now understanding that the hits he endured throughout his hockey career damaged his brain, I want all athletes to understand the risks and I want the NHL to start acknowledging it exists and do more to protect its players so other daughters don’t have to lose their fathers.”

CTE has been a big topic for the NHL and the NFL due to consistent contact. Concussions are common in both leagues. Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa experienced multiple concussions a few seasons ago. Former Stanley Cup Champion Andrew Shaw retired in 2021 from concussion problems.

While the NFL acknowledged a connection a few seasons ago, the NHL has not yet.

Johnson’s NHL Career

Johnson played a total of 785 games in the NHL with the Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Detroit Red Wings. Furthermore, he won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 1994 Olympics.

Johnson was the second team captain in Predators history. Johnson played for the Predators from 1998-2006. The forward retired from concussions after the 2005-06 season.

“This diagnosis took my breath away,” said Kristin, Johnson’s wife. “Greg’s death shattered our world, and we never once thought this disease was something he struggled with. He experienced very few symptoms that we knew of, but he spoke of his concussions often. I remember the exact moment he told me his heart condition forcing him to retire was a blessing because he couldn’t take another hit. He knew his hockey career had a profound impact on his brain.”

Main Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


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