As part of this concussion story stream, I'm doing a piece on the Philadelphia Flyers. I'll be taking a look at four concussions of Flyers players that were or contributed to the ends of their careers. This piece will examine concussions suffered by Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau, Ian LaPierre and Chris Pronger during their time in a Flyers uniform. Let's get started with Eric Lindros.
Eric Lindros suffered six concussions while in a Flyers uniform. His first occurred on March 7th of 1998 when he was hit by Darius Kasparaitis. Lindros had to be helped off the ice and would miss 18 games. Said Lindros regarding the hit, " I don't recall the hit I recall a lot of things after the hit. I'm tired, I have a headache, and things aren't as sharp as they could be." His second concussion occurred December 29th, 1998. Lindros was hit twice on the same shift when he hit the ice trying to avoid a hit and then was checked into the boards by Jason Wiemer. He left that game and did not return but only missed two subsequent games. Lindros would suffer a third concussion on January 14th, 2000 when he was hit by Chris Tamer after giving out a hit. He left that game as well and went on to miss 4 games.
The beginning of the end of Lindros's time in a Flyers uniform would begin on March 4th, 2000. A routine hit by Hal Gill left Lindros stunned. He would finish that game and go on to play 4 more. At that point, he then checked into the hospital. Migraines and medication were initially blamed for his condition before he was diagnosed with a grade II concussion. He would be out for the remainder of the regular season. As he was working out with the Philadelphia Phantoms, trying to come back from his concussion, he collided with defenseman Francis Lessard, suffering a cut on his lip and another concussion. At this time, he had been stripped of his captaincy by the Flyers, and they had no hopes of him returning although he hoped to return for the conference finals. Lindros did return for game 6 of the conference finals against New Jersey, and the game went to a 7th in Philly.
Towards the end of the game, he was laid out by Scott Stevens on an open ice hit. He left the ice and would miss the next year, spending half of it recovering from his concussion, and the other half in a trade feud with owner Bobby Clarke before being traded to the New York Rangers. He would suffer one more concussion with the Rangers, and other injuries limited his career with the Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars. He has been outspoken about concussions in the NHL.
Keith Primeau suffered four documented concussions but believes he suffered from 10 or more. At least three of them happened in a Flyers uniform. One happened during game 6 of the 2000 conference semifinals against Pittsburgh. Primeau was laid out by Bob Bougher and left the ice on a stretcher. He was back two nights later for game 1 of the conference finals against New Jersey, despite post concussive symptoms. Primeau suffered a second concussion against the Rangers in the 2003-2004 season, missing 21 games. On October 25th, 2005, Primeau would be hit by Montreal's Alexander Perezhogin. This hit would result in his final concussion. He would miss the remainder of the season. He would attempt to return for the 2006-2007 season but was quickly troubled by post concussive symptoms and was told by trainer Jim McCrossin that he would never be cleared to play. At this juncture, Primeau knew he had to retire. He believes that career of concussions had a cumulative effect.
Today, Primeau is the co-founder of stopconcussions.com with European hockey player Kerry Goulet. The pair have also written a book called "Concussed! Sports Related Head Injuries: Prevention, Coping and Real Stories." Primeau was also featured as a pundit in the documentary "Head Games." 8 years later, he still struggles with post concussive symptoms and is an advocate for concussion sufferers.
Ian Laperriere suffered a career ending concussion on April 22nd 2010 during a first round playoff game against the New Jersey Devils, although he did later return to play in the conference finals. Laperriere went down to block a shot by Paul Martin and suffered an orbital bone injury and a concussion. He was back for the conference finals when baseline testing returned to normal, despite lingering symptoms. He continued to have symptoms over the summer and only played in one preseason game before having to admit something was wrong. The Flyers sent him for further testing, he was advised not to play due to post concussion syndrome and eventually advised to retire.
Laperriere became the Flyers' Masterton nominee for the 2010-2011 season, winning the trophy for his work at becoming a mentor to younger players, eventually winning the trophy. He retired from the NHL on June 12th, 2012and was named director of player development for the Flyers on June 29th. He still struggles with the symptoms of post concussion syndrome.
Chris Pronger was hit in the face by Mikhail Grabovkski's stick on October 24th, 2011. He would miss 6 games with an eye injury, complete with swelling and bleeding. Pronger would return to play wearing a visor. On November 17th, he was checked into the boards by Martin Hanzal. He went in face first, and was slow to get up; the normally well balanced Pronger falling on his skates. Pronger had sustained two major hits in a relatively short period of time, before he'd had time to recover from the first one. The second hit can often do the most damage.
Pronger passed initial concussion testing and at first, missed games with what the Flyers termed "a virus." After missing games with the virus and arthroscopic knee surgery, he was still symptomatic, and the Flyers announced he was out with "concussion-like symptoms." He missed the final 69 games of the 2011-2012 season and has yet to play in 2013. His captaincy has been given to Claude Giroux. To date, he is improving, but slowly from post concussion syndrome, however, he may never play again.