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A couple of years ago, Drew Doughty suffered a freak concussion during an on-ice collision in a summer skating session at Budweiser Gardens. The fear and doubt was overwhelming.
“So scary,” the L.A. Kings star defenceman said. “The head is so scary because you never know what the outcome could be. The brain is important and you’ve got to protect it. I know players don’t try to target the head in our sport — and in other ones, too.
“But sometimes, it just happens and it sucks.”
Fortunately, his old friend — and now NHL Western Conference rival — Logan Couture has enlisted himself in the medical war against that uncertainty.
The early returns from the San Jose Sharks star’s inaugural $175-bucks-a-pop All-in for Brain Research charity casino fundraiser Wednesday at Centennial Hall was a 560-ticket sellout, with organizers estimating in excess of $100,000 for research and recovery.
To get a sense of how much concussion awareness has enveloped the sporting consciousness, Couture’s early, modest goal was 300 tickets sold and half of the actual total raised.
“It’s humbling and, just from the response so far, it’s exciting,” Couture said.
“There’s really no time frame with a brain injury. You just don’t know when you’re ready (to play again). That’s why this research is so important.”
Sharks teammate Chris Tierney, one of the NHLers who joined the cause along with Doughty, was not at all surprised by Couture’s drive to make a difference by battling a problem that continues to dominate sports headlines.
“Logan’s a really good teammate and person off the ice,” the former Knights captain said. “You ask any young guy on San Jose or who broke into the league the past three, four years, he treats them all really well and you can see how much he cares for people.”
Couture recovered from two concussions during his junior hockey days in Ottawa. He wants to make sure younger players who go through that experience have the right support system and education in place before they get back on the ice.
“Now in the league, the training staff and team does a really good job making sure you’re 100 percent ready to go,” Tierney said. “You don’t risk anything in your career or life. There’s life after hockey, so you take all the steps.”
Eric Lindros was one of hockey’s pioneers in taking charge of his own health during his career. The Hockey Hall of Famer hopes today’s players are doing the same.
“Certainly, with the Players’ Association doing their job, they’re getting second opinions,” he said. “Everybody’s brain and skull is different. It’s tough getting back to health as quickly and safely as they can, and all you want is to see them get back on the ice as soon as possible.
“For Logan to step up and gather the group, it means a lot. It’s money towards research and helping out the Fowler Kennedy clinic.”
It’s not just hockey, either. Los Angeles Dodgers third basemen Justin Turner chipped in to the cause by sending a bat as part of a silent auction package.
“That’s pretty cool,” Couture said with a grin. “ I got that in the mail last week. I did him a favour a couple of weeks ago. I tweeted for him for the MLB all-star game, and he got in. I think some Giants fans eventually gave in and voted for an L.A. guy, too.
“I think that helped him.”
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