The next edition of HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” set to air Tuesday, takes a look at what it calls the NHL’s inaction on concussions in hockey.
The program shows clips of Gary Bettman where the NHL commissioner says there is no connection between playing hockey and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease of the brain.
Hall of Fame center Eric Lindros is featured in the program. He suffered six concussions in two years, the last of which changed him forever. The star of the Philadelphia Flyers was skating into the zone in the 2000 Eastern Conference finals against the New Jersey Devils when he was elbowed by Scott Stevens. The hit left Lindros unconscious.
“I was tired a lot,” Lindros says. “I used to hate crowds. Never used to hate crowds. I was fine and I started to really hate rooms with a lot of people. ... I was furious because here I went from being a really good player to being just a shadow of myself.”
For a while, Lindros wanted nothing to do with hockey. But eventually, he made it his mission to spread awareness on head injuries in hockey. On the day he retired, Nov. 8, 2007, Lindros donated $5 million to the facility that helped him deal with his symptoms.
Last winter, he teamed up with Montreal Canadiens doctor David Mulder and asked the NHL to fund research to protect its players.
“We thought that a million dollars a team, $31 million, was the right number,” Lindros says.
HBO correspondent David Scott responded: “Modest start for a $4-billion league. And what do they say?”
“You know, we didn’t hear a whole lot back,” Lindros says.
The program says the NHL has yet to donate money to any major centers of concussion study in North America. No one from the NHL was willing to speak to “Real Sports,” according to the program.