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Greg Johnson, former Detroit Red Wings player who died 5 years ago, suffered from CTE

By meerna Jul10,2024
Greg Johnson, former Detroit Red Wings player who died 5 years ago, suffered from CTE

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Greg Johnson, who died five years ago, suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE, according to a report from Boston University.

Johnson was 48 when he committed suicide in his Detroit home on July 7, 2019. This week, his family released the results of an analysis of post-mortem brain tissue through the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Dr. Ann McKee, director of the Boston University CTE Center, diagnosed Johnson with CTE but was unable to determine the exact stage because of the manner of death, according to the release.

CTE is a brain disease caused in part by repeated head trauma. Former Wings forward Bob Probert, who died of heart failure in 2010 at age 45 while boating on Lake St. Clair, was one of the first NHL players to be diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease.

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Johnson played for the Wings from 1993-97 and continued in the NHL until 2006. His attempt to play one final season, with a tryout with the Wings in the summer of 2006, had to be cut short when a test revealed a heart condition. He was not an enforcer and had only one fight in nearly 800 NHL games.

Kristin Johnson, Greg’s widow, declined to comment, but included a statement with the release. “This diagnosis took my breath away. Greg’s death shattered our world and we never once considered that this disease was something he struggled with. He experienced very few symptoms that we knew about, but he often spoke about his concussions. I remember the exact moment he told me that his heart condition forcing him to retire was a blessing because he couldn’t take another blow. He knew that his hockey career had a profound effect on his brain.”

Johnson was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers with the 33rd overall pick in 1989. In June 1993, then-Wings general manager Bryan Murray acquired Johnson for his solid two-way play as a center. He played four seasons with the Wings until January 1997, when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Tomas Sandstrom, who filled the Wings’ need for size and physicality.

Within a year, Johnson was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks and finished his career with the Nashville Predators. He scored 369 points in 785 games, playing his final season in 2005-06.

During that time, Johnson accumulated just 345 penalty minutes. His stats show just one fight, March 20, 2004, against Calgary’s Robyn Regehr.

In August 2006, the Wings signed Johnson to a tryout. During tests before training camp in Traverse City, an EKG showed abnormal results, leading to Johnson’s retirement. He, his wife, and his daughters remained in the Detroit metropolitan area.

Carson Johnson, the couple’s oldest daughter, also issued a statement in the release. “I had no idea what CTE was when my dad took his life. Now that I know the impacts he suffered during his hockey career damaged his brain, I want all athletes to understand the risk and I want the NHL to start acknowledging it and do more to protect its players so other daughters don’t have to lose their fathers.”

By meerna

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