Rick Martin had disease that is linked to repeated brain trauma


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Flashy Rick Martin was never going to be confused with an enforcer, achieving acclaim as a vaunted goal-scorer, not a fighter, in his glory days with the Buffalo Sabres.

But Martin, who died in March of a heart attack at age 59, was revealed to have had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated brain trauma, according to Boston University researchers in a report issued Wednesday.


The other two former NHL players diagnosed with CTE, post-mortem, were known for their formidable fighting abilities, Bob Probert and Reggie Fleming. Martin was said to have stage two of the disease – stage four being the most severe.

“Rick Martin’s case shows us that even hockey players who don’t engage in fighting are at risk for CTE, likely because of the repetitive brain trauma players receive throughout their career,” said Chris Nowinski, co-director Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Martin was part of the famed “French Connection” line along with Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert, scoring 382 goals in 681 games with the Sabres, from 1971 to 1981. Martin’s career ended with the Kings as he was dealt to Los Angeles and played four games, scoring twice.

It was noted by researchers in the report that Martin’s only known concussion occurred in 1977 during a game when his head hit the ice. Martin, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered “immediate convulsions.”


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