article

The tragic details of former NHL captain Greg Johnson's death

CTE and head trauma claims another NHL life.

Share on Facebook

According to a report released by the Rochester Police Department obtained by the Detroit News, former NHL captain Greg Johnson died earlier this month of an apparent suicide.

Johnson was found by his wife, Kristin, shortly before 10 a.m. on July 7 in a storage room in the couple’s basement. A gun and a single bullet were found near Johnson, according to police.

Given the heightened scrutiny of brain injuries and their affect on mental health, there’s some belief that Johnson’s hard-playing, gritty style of play ultimately contributed to his death. Johnson had been diagnosed with several concussions throughout his career, but it’s not known whether or not he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

Kristin told police that Johnson suffered “numerous concussions during his playing career,” but that she witnessed no signs of depression in her husband.

Johnson’s former Red Wings teammate Darren McCarty made reference to Johnson’s death on a podcast last week, saying, “Great guy, he had some concussion problems, some injury problems … and it was just too much for him, I guess.”

The Detroit News uncovered the details of Johnson’s discovery, by his wife Kristen:

Kristin Johnson told police that on that Sunday morning, she heard the garage door open, but assumed it was her daughter returning from a friend’s house.
She also noticed a fresh pot of coffee had been made, so she went to the patio, where her husbandliked to drink his coffee. He wasn’t there.
She also noticed the couple’s dogs had been fed, but saw the basement door was closed, which was unusual because the dogs routinely came and went downstairs freely.
Kristin Johnson then noticed a light on in the storage room and peekedin, but didn’t see anything.
After going upstairs and calling out for Greg again, she considered it unusual that the storage-room light was on, so she went back, and that’s when she found her husband, lying next to a tipped-over ladder.
Kristin Johnson told police that the couple had no marital difficulties, and just the previous night had gone out for dinner and returned home and settled next to a backyard bonfire.
She also said she didn’t know anything about financial difficulties, though she acknowledged that was her husband’s department.
The couple had their Rochester home on the market, but only to move closer to his job at a financial firm in Livonia, she said.
Kristin Johnson’s father, Thomas Kotzian, told police on the scene that Johnson’s job was “very high pressure.”
Kotzian also told police that during dinner the night before, Johnson expressed some frustration about not getting any offers on the Rochester house, but said he wasn’t forced to sell, adding, “It’s not like someone has a gun to my head.”
Kristin Johnson said she was unaware that her husband even owned a gun, calling him anti-gun. Records obtained by police show he purchased the handgun in January 2017.

Terrible. Clearly, Johnson was fighting with some awful thoughts. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, especially those closest to him.