Former Pittsburgh Penguins heavyweight defenseman and Stanley Cup champion Phil Bourque has had a rough go at it following the conclusion of his hockey career.
He is currently a radio analyst for the Penguins, but about two years ago, he publicly admitted to memory lapses likely caused by multiple concussions suffered in his playing days.
If you look at his career stats, he was regularly hitting 100-200 penalty minutes, which is an indication of his rough style that he played for several seasons across different stages of his career.
“There have been big gaps the last six or eight months,” Bourque said two years ago, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dave Molinari. “Sometimes you think, ‘Well, geez, am I just tired, or have I been pushing myself too hard?’
“But it’s abnormally long gaps in memory and not being able to recall the simplest things, like people’s names who you’re around all the time. Complete blanks.
“We all have that moment where you kind of forget something, and it comes right back to you. Now, it doesn’t come back at all, and it’s actually kind of scary. People that you see every single day, you’re like, ‘What’s your name again?’ ”
Nothing has changed since then, a new report reveals.
He explained that things have continued to compound, and he fears he may be dealing with the feared degenerative brain disease that contact sport athletes suffer from - Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
“You just hear these horrible stories of players going into these downward spirals of depression,” he said. “That’s probably what really concerns me. As we get older, we all start thinking about death and we start thinking about our health and start thinking about how long we’re going to have with our kids, all that stuff."
He went on to say that he fears something serious will "sneak up" on him sooner rather than later.
It's a serious issue - players with repeated brain trauma have spiralled into depression and committed suicide or died of drug overdose following concussions. These include Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak - all of which died within a 4 month span.
You can start to understand Bourque's apprehension and fear.
“It was a cavalier attitude back then that I think a lot of athletes had,” he added. “Now that you get back to reality and live a normal life, with kids, and want to live a long time, it makes you worry. A lot.”
Bourque was a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins back in the 90s. You can't help but feel for the man as he deals with a very scary time in his life.