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|Beukeboom weighs in on NHL player safety|
|Written by Dan Marrazza|
|Monday, 28 October 2013 23:18|
Almost 15 years after having his career prematurely ended due to concussion issues, former Oilers and Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom sits down with Dan Marrazza to discuss the state of player safety in the NHL.November 19, 1998. Los Angeles, California.
The New York Rangers are visiting the Great Western Forum on a Thursday night, holding a comfortable 4-1 lead midway through the third period when Kings enforcer Matt Johnson spots veteran Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom with his back turned.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound cement truck who’d finish his nine-year pro career with 35 times as many penalty minutes as points, suddenly seems to be on a mission—destroy Beukeboom by any means necessary.
What happens next transpires in a split second, as Johnson completely obliterates Beukeboom with an unprovoked, blindsided haymaker that bludgeons his target square in the back of his head.
Johnson is ejected and eventually suspended.
Beukeboom, meanwhile, lays unconscious and motionless on the ice, his “relatively” major injury-free 13-year career suddenly fast-tracked towards retirement.
“There’s memories of that night, before and after the incident,” recalls Beukeboom, now a 48-year-old assistant coach in the Rangers organization with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. “But there’s a 10-20 minute span that I have no memory of.
“I remember the game. I remember what happened after the incident. But I don’t remember the incident, per se.”
Despite being heavily concussed, Beukeboom, as per standard of a past era of pro hockey, quickly returns to the lineup, a consummate soldier prepared to “tough it out” for the sake of his team.
Beukeboom just couldn’t shake the after effects of his severe concussion, however, and floated in and out of the lineup the next three months while enduring what can probably be diagnosed as some level of Post-Concussion Syndrome. His career continued this way until February 12 of that same season, when Martin Gelinas accidentally kneed him in the head during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.
Jeff Beukeboom never played a game in the NHL again.
Given how the incidents surrounding the end of Beukeboom’s career could be a custom-made case study of exactly the types of things the NHL’s recent crackdown on headshots and awareness of concussions are designed to protect against, I recently caught up with the former defenseman to discuss the League’s rule changes and how he’s coped with his injuries in the 15 years since his retirement.
First off, we’ve all heard tales of how concussions can affect someone even many years after being sustained. Although it’s been 15 years since your final concussion, do you still have any symptoms?Beukeboom: “There’s really no aftermath where I can put a finger on something and say it’s old age (laughs) or something that’s a result of when I played.
“But right now, I have basically been symptom free since about 2001 or so.
“It took me 18 months to two years from the last one, which was the cumulative effect when it came to my career and what happened towards the end of it.”
You mention cumulative effects of multiple concussions. How many concussions do you believe you had during your career?
Beukeboom: “In total, I think I had five or six majors (three or four before the Johnson incident), but a bunch of little dinks along the way.”
|Last Updated on Monday, 28 October 2013 23:31|