Former NHL Player Donates Brain to Concussion Research

September 14, 2017 04:55 PM

The family of the former NHL player Jeff Parker, from White Bear Lake, plans to donate his brain to researchers at Boston University’s CTE Center after his death on Monday at a Minneapolis hospital.

Parker was part of a federal lawsuit brought by more than 150 former players that accuses the NHL of failing to warn players about the health risks associated with brain injuries.


“He had a pretty good IQ for the game. He had a great mind for the game, and he was a great penalty killer,” Scott Parker said of his brother. “I think he could have played in the NHL for 10 years, if he had been healthy.”

Jeff Parker, 53, died from complications due to Cardio Pulmonary Hypertension.

The Parker family decided Jeff’s brain should a research lab at BU, to see if it had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – the degenerative brain disease found in several deceased NHL players.

“We don’t want these hockey players having issues for the rest of their life,” Scott Parker said. “As a school coach, I’m worried about my player’s health; I’m not sure that can be said about the NHL right now.”

Earlier this year, Jeff Parker told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he had a constant ringing in his ears that drives him “batty.”

He also said hearing was a challenge, lights triggered headaches, and food had no taste.

Fighting Back: Former Players Say NHL Downplayed Concussions, Ignores Science

At the time, Parker said those were the consequences he lived with after suffering concussions in the NHL.

"I wouldn't wish that on anybody to get a concussion like the one I had,” Parker said. “It's awful."

Parker, who grew up skating on rinks in White Bear Lake, played parts of four seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and Hartford Whalers in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

It was during a game in Hartford where Parker said he suffered his final concussion that led to his career on the ice coming to an end.

Extended Interview with Jeff Parker

The other players in the federal lawsuit say they were “left in the dark” for decades and are now demanding the league pay to monitor their health conditions.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the lawsuit, which includes 17 former players from Minnesota, has “no merit whatsoever.”

“(Jeff) was a light who people liked to gravitate towards,” said brother Scott Parker. “He was so loyal. If you were Jeff’s buddy, you were Jeff’s buddy for life.”

Parker’s funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Friday at Saint Andrew's Lutheran Church 900 Stillwater Road in Mahtomedi.


Eric Chaloux

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