Hockey stars join NFL legends in pledging to donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation to support research

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Shawn McEachern, AJ Griswold, Bob Sweeney and Ted Drury join growing list of Brain Pledge Month participants

(Boston) – The Concussion Legacy Foundation announced today that four hockey stars have pledged their brains to the Foundation, adding their names to a growing list of former athletes to pledge. The group includes Stanley Cup Champion and 14-year NHL standout Shawn McEachern, Olympic gold medalist, college national champion and former USA Hockey Women’s Player of the Year AJ Griswold, former Boston Bruins star Bob Sweeney, and former NHL veteran Ted Drury.

Brain Pledge Month is part of the Foundation’s My Legacy campaign to encourage athletes to make a lasting contribution to concussion and CTE research. The month kicked off with 30 former NFL players pledging their brains, led by Randy Cross, Keith Sims and Shawn Springs. More than 1,500 former athletes and military veterans have pledged to donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation including nearly 200 during Brain Pledge Month. People from sports and military backgrounds at all levels are encouraged to pledge their brain to research at ConcussionFoundation.org/pledge.

“This is something I really want to do to help the sport long-term,” said McEachern. “I would tell my friends the same thing, that this is something we can all do to raise awareness and help the sport. I have three kids that play hockey, I coach a prep school team, and I’m a former player, so I know how important this research is.”

“I want to do anything I can in my years after playing to help future generations, whether it be my kids, my friends’ kids, or my kids’ friends,” said Griswold, who follows soccer legend Brandi Chastain, who pledged her brain in 2016, as a female sports icon raising awareness of concussion and CTE risks in women’s sports. “There’s still so much we don’t know, which is why the research is so important.”

In 2008, the Concussion Legacy Foundation partnered with Boston University and the US Department of Veterans Affairs to create the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, now the world’s largest CTE brain bank with subspecialties in concussion, ALS, and other consequences of brain trauma. 385 brains have been donated, resulting in over 240 CTE diagnoses, over 70 percent of confirmed CTE cases globally. Former NHL players Derek Boogaard, Bob Probert, Reggie Fleming, Rick Martin, and Larry Zeidel are among the former hockey players who have been diagnosed with CTE at the Brain Bank.

“The hundreds of cases of CTE diagnosed at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank continue to show us that the devastating effects of CTE are not unique to just one or two sports,” said Chris Nowinski, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “For this group of U.S. hockey icons to pledge and raise awareness is a great sign that former players are looking after the future of hockey.”

Everyone who pledges their brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation receives a personalized brain donor card and an informational packet about the brain donation process. Those who take the pledge are encouraged to spread the word to friends, family and former teammates about the importance of brain trauma research, and to share why they pledged using #MyLegacy.

View our full interview with AJ Griswold.

About Shawn McEachern:

Shawn McEachern played in the NHL from 1991 to 2006, scoring 256 goals and 579 points in his career, both of which are top 50 among American-born players in NHL history. McEachern started out with the Penguins, winning a Stanley Cup with them in 1992, but later played for the Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, and Boston Bruins. Prior to his NHL career, McEachern was a standout for Boston University from 1988 to 1991, leading the team to the final game of the Frozen Four in 1991. McEachern is currently the Varsity Boys ice hockey coach at The Rivers School in Weston, MA.

About AJ Griswold:

One of the most decorated hockey players of all time, AJ Griswold led the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team to the Olympic gold medal in 1998 and the silver in 2002. She captained the 1999 National Champion Harvard University women’s hockey team, and was named the 1999 USA Hockey Women’s Player of the Year and the 1999 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Winner, awarded to the best women’s college hockey player. Griswold was inducted into the New England Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002, and is now an Olympic hockey broadcaster.

About Bob Sweeney:

A Concord, MA native, Bob Sweeney played 10 years in the NHL, including his first six seasons with his hometown Boston Bruins. Sweeney amassed 125 goals and 288 points in his career, which also included time with the Sabres, Islanders and Flames. Sweeney played college hockey for Boston College from 1982 to 1986.

About Ted Drury:

Boston, MA native Ted Drury played eight years in the NHL, spending time with the Calgary Flames, Hartford Whalers, Ottawa Senators, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, New York Islanders, and Columbus Blue Jackets. Drury was the 42nd overall pick in the 1989 NHL Draft after playing his college career at Harvard University. Drury played in 414 career games and logged 93 points.

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