Top Shelf: Concussed!

Book review: Concussed! by Keith Primeau and Kerry Goulet, OverTime Books

Keith Primeau was a physical force during his 15-year NHL career, using his 6-foot-5 frame to attack his opponents. His bruising style of play left him susceptible to injury, and over the course of 909 career regular season games, he sustained four documented concussions.

His final concussion occurred in October 25, 2005 after taking a hit from Alexander Perezhogin of the Montreal Canadiens. It turned out to be the blow that ended the career of Primeau, the former Red Wings, Whalers/Hurricanes and Flyers star.

Now 41, Primeau teamed with former German league hockey player Kerry Goulet in writing “Concussed!”, a book aimed at athletes, coaches, trainers and parents in educating the public about concussion awareness.

“It was really a continuation of the work we’ve been doing at StopConcussions.com,” said Primeau. “If people are interested enough and want to educate themselves enough, it’s a minimal cost to get information that they may not necessarily be able to get a hold of. It was an important project for us, and we’re glad that it came to fruition.”

The book provides a thorough overview of how concussions are diagnosed, and how such injuries should be properly managed and tested. Included are several personal stories of athletes and their families whose quality of life has been deteriorated as a result of sustaining a concussion. In the most severe instances, the injury was fatal.

Goulet says that part of concussion prevention is instilling a mindset of separating your opponent from the puck, and “not separating the head from the shoulders” which players often appear to be attempting to do, judging by the reckless manner in which elbow pads are commonly used.

“We always want to try and look at the establishments to fix it,” said Goulet whose professional hockey career came to an end in 2001 as a result of a concussion. “But it’s us. We’re human and we all look for the instant fix. We want the rule changes, we want the band-aid to fix it, we want the equipment to fix it. But it’s really about us, the way we coach our kids, the way we parent our kids. We as the adults in the equation have to learn to reinstate the respect into the game.”

Three years ago, Primeau agreed to posthumously donate his brain to the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) in Massachusetts. A renowned facility, the SLI, in collaboration with Boston University Medical School, discovered symptoms of the degenerative brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in three of its legacy donors: Rick Martin, Bob Probert and Reggie Fleming.

As more high profile players from Sidney Crosby to Jonathan Toews to Chris Pronger continue to suffer these types of injuries, Primeau and Goulet continue to promote a safer environment for sports, at any level of play.

“We want to be sure that (people) don’t go away with a heightened sense of fear,” said Primeau. “We want them to go away with a heightened sense of awareness.”

Goulet concurs. “The really important part of the book is not to scare, it’s to educate and just to understand that the game is only a game,” he said. “We as a generation have said ‘Enough’s enough. Let’s come together.’ We’ve got great people all around the world working on this as one cohesive unit. That’s what’s going to make a change, and that’s what the book represents.”


Concussed! is available from OverTime Books. TMLfans.ca contributors Monika Moravan and Kevin Shea were involved in the writing. Rob Del Mundo is the author of the regular book review column Top Shelf, and covers the Leafs and Marlies at TMLfans.ca

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