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Ken Dryden, an NHL goaltender turned politician and businessman, has spent years warning of the dangers of head injury in sports.DAVE CHAN/The Globe and Mail

In his new book, Game Change, Ken Dryden tells three interwoven tales. The first unspools the life story of Steve Montador, who died in 2015 at age 35, after a lifetime on the ice and 571 games in the NHL. The second, hockey's relentless shift into a high-speed, high-injury sport. The third explores the roadblocks to transforming concussion science into on-the-rink reform. In this excerpt, Dryden looks at how diagnosing concussions doesn't tell the whole story of the brain.

Four concussions in eighteen months tells us a lot. It is the writing that is unmissably on the wall. But it doesn't tell us everything because we don't know everything. Sometimes things happen that we don't understand. We have to allow for that. We have to believe that we can create our own destiny every bit as much as science creates our destiny for us. After all, the concussion tests only say "not now." They don't say "not ever."

Once [Ottawa Senator Clarke] MacArthur had started things in motion, once he kept on trying, kept on training, kept on showing up at the rink, once he had failed his baseline test but wouldn't go home, what was going to stop him? Once he kept feeling a little better, and a little better, it was clear the team needed him and he needed the team, and the playoffs were getting closer. Once that mountain of hope and need to play built and built, higher and higher, and the story got better and better, who was going to say no to him? Who was going to tell him he couldn't play? MacArthur, his wife, his parents, his teammates, his coaches, his GM, his owner, the doctors, the NHL's Department of Player Safety, Gary Bettman? That would be so unconscionably cruel. He just wanted to feel normal again, and as it was with Marc Savard, normal was to play.

In Game 2 of the second round of the playoffs, Ryan McDonagh of the Rangers struck MacArthur with a high, hard, but not shuddering check. He left the game with what Ottawa called an "upper body injury," what they and MacArthur later said was a pinched nerve in his neck, unrelated to the previous concussions he had suffered. Clarke MacArthur returned to the lineup for Game 3.

Excerpted from Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey. Copyright © 2017 Ken Dryden. Published by Signal, an imprint of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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