“Back in the ‘90s, you'd get guys who'd say they have headaches every game or memory loss all the time,” Lovell said. “It's in their best interests to report them. I wouldn't say we're 100 per cent there yet, but there's a lot of work going into that.”
The high-speed collisions never slowed down Roenick, who played for five teams over an 18-year career.
“It wasn't a big deal when we played. We didn't know much about them,” he said. “Guys didn't seem to go out as often with concussions. Guys seemed to be, I don't want to say tougher, but we played through a lot more scenarios and situations than they do now. It's a different mentality, a different league, a different sport now, almost, in general.”
Roenick said he was diagnosed with 13 concussions over his career and always answered the bell for the next shift. He recalled a game he was knocked out against the Minnesota North Stars during the 1990-91 season and awoke on the trainer's table with no idea how he got there. He played the next night — and scored a hat trick.
Three years after he retired, Roenick said he has some short-term memory loss and sometimes grasps at finding the right words in his role as TV analyst.
While Boogaard suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain ailment related to Alzheimer's disease that is caused by repeated blows to the head, the 41-year-old Roenick insisted he can't worry about how those repeated brain-rattling shots will change his physical state down the road.
“I'm not going to sit here and worry and waste any minute of my life wondering how the next 10 years is going to be,” he said. “Even if something happens when I'm old, I know three-quarters of my life was off-the-charts fun.”
Lovell noted doctors are “nowhere near the final answers” on C.T.E. and who gets it or is susceptible to the disease.
Today's players are more aware of the frightening consequences of trying to tough it out and play through a concussion. Miller missed nine games after being bowled over by Boston's Milan Lucic in November. He stayed in the game before starting to feel woozy in the second period. He was diagnosed with a concussion and whiplash.
“I's not that we don't want to give it all we've got out there sometimes,” Miller said. “But you have to really think ahead. As we learn more about it, it becomes almost more confusing because it's like, ‘How many ways can it happen?“’