Eric Lindros has no interest in re-hashing his own concussion history or talking about what might have been if his scores of devastating head injuries were treated differently.
“There’s no point in looking back and being sore,” Lindros said in a telephone interview Thursday. “We have to acknowledge the problem now. It’s about what’s happening with Rowan’s Law and helping every kid that we can.”
Indeed, Lindros, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday after scoring 372 goals and 493 assists in his all-too-brief 760-game NHL career, is passionate about concussion awareness and prevention among youth.
When Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod approached him about becoming a champion for Rowan’s Law — inspired by the death of 17-year-old rugby player Rowan Stringer in May 2013 – he jumped at the chance to become involved.
Rowan’s Law was created to establish standard concussion protocols for athletes, coaches and parents, making sure players don’t return until they have a doctor’s clearance.
Lindros, 43, and his wife, Kina, have a 21-month-old son, Carl, and six-month-old twins, Ryan and Sophie.
He wants a safer playing field for them and all children, and is anxious about “changing things from a cultural perspective.”
Lindros knows first-hand about the dangers of head trauma and being forced to return too soon.
He suffered at least six concussions between 1998 and 2000 and was never the same again. When his concussion issues arrived, he abandoned then-standard protocol, seeking out advice from concussion experts, rather than accepting the opinions of team doctors.
His brother, Brett, also retired from the NHL due to concussions in 1995.
“I’ve been around the block on this one,” said Lindros. “I know about the politics of (whether) players are sitting out too much. At the time, my dad had more info on concussions than most people.”
Today, as the education about concussions grows, Lindros is pushing for all the parties in a position to make positive changes to talk to each other.
“This should be about sharing information, collaborating, sharing funds,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a difference between a concussion in hockey or a concussion in rugby or a concussion in horseback riding. Why are there so many bodies doing the same thing?”
While Lindros recognizes the competitive nature of medical advances, he’s also expressing the importance of sharing knowledge when it comes to head injuries.
“There is so much to do,” he said.
“Trying to get it all under one roof, from a financial standpoint, it’s a great thing to do. There is the sharing of funds, the sharing of (medical) images. Allowing everyone to have a look at things is way better. If I’m paying taxes, I’m for collaboration. That’s the best way to go.”
While the attention on concussions is usually focused on injuries suffered while playing organized sports, Lindros says he’s also concerned about the children who suffer head injuries when falling off their bikes or in car accidents or when running around the playground.
Perhaps, he suggests, young teachers should have a mandatory training in concussion awareness, being able to spot potential issues.
While Rowan’s Law is centred on youth concussions, Lindros’s old playing field, the NHL, is also in the thick of a concussion lawsuit with retired players. Those skaters contend the NHL didn’t do enough to make players aware of the potential for concussions. The NHL now suspends players for the types of devastating hits that Lindros received before suffering concussions.
“It has gotten better, but there’s still a way to go,” said Lindros. “I’m still not sure it is being recognized to the extent it should be. Especially with the veteran players. Let’s get them taken care of.”