Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog says it's time to "stand up and speak up" about the effect of concussions in hockey.
His piece for the Players Tribune website, titled "We need to Talk About Concussions," comes a few days after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman came under renewed criticism over the league's position that there is "insufficient evidence" to link head injuries and degenerative brain disease.
Landeskog recalled his own experience with a concussion in January 2013.
"There's just no way your brain comes away from that kind of collision unscathed," he wrote.
The now 23-year-old said the injury occurred in a game against San Jose when he was hit by Sharks centre Joe Thornton as he looked down to find the puck. He recalled that "everything went black" after the hit, though he eventually returned to finish the game, believing it to be the proper display of leadership in his early days as Avalanche captain.
Landeskog recalled learning that all was not well. He awoke the next morning at a hotel in Edmonton feeling "like two cement blocks were pushing against the sides of my skull", describing the concussion aftermath as agonizing. He remembers being unable to watch television for a week, bothered by lights and noise as he recovered at home.
Landeskog said he wanted to speak up on the subject so that the younger ranks in hockey would "understand the complexity" of the concussion and its' effects, urging that proper time be given to allow the injury to heal.
He spoke to a changing culture in the NHL with regard to concussions with better awareness among players and rules that aim to keep players from returning to games after suffering a head injury. Still, he suggests that an undercurrent of machoism remains for an "invisible" injury.
"If we continue to keep quiet, it's sending the message that taking time to recover is not right, or that it's a sign of weakness," Landeskog wrote. "We have to stand up and speak up."
The piece comes on the heels of Bettman's controversial comments in response to the inquisition of U.S. politician Richard Blumenthal. Bettman wrote in a thorough, well-researched letter to Blumenthal that "a causal link between concussions and CTE has not been demonstrated."
Heeding the work of experts in the field, Bettman suggested that even when cases of CTE were found "there is insufficient evidence" linking it to participation in professional sports or contact sports more generally.
Blumenthal asked for clarification on the NHL's seemingly "dismissive" stance on the subject in emails made public earlier this year.
Bettman said it was "unfair" to criticize the NHL when it was only following the consensus opinion of experts. He lauded the NHL's ongoing efforts to educate players on the risks of hits to the head, all the while noting that "no medical scientific study has ever concluded that concussions suffered by players who have played hockey at the NHL level can or do cause degenerative 'brain diseases'."
The NHL is currently facing a class-action concussion lawsuit.