March 18, 2012

Adam Deadmarsh: Concussions Ended Career Too Early

In September 2005 Adam Deadmarsh had to make the decision that everyone - including himself - knew he had to make. Not that that made walking way from the game he loved any easier.

"I've kind of been holding on and hoping and praying that I'd recover from this concussion issue that I have and I haven't been able to do that," Deadmarsh said. "I think it's time that I kind of moved on and made a decision and faced the fact that my brain doesn't want to play hockey anymore."

Deadmarsh, a tough as nails power forward and Stanley Cup champion, did not walk away from the game so much as he had it taken from him. He received his first serious concussion in November 2000 after a fight with Vancouver's Ed Jovanovski while he was playing for the Los Angeles Kings.

So much for the notion that no one gets hurt in hockey fights.

Deadmarsh would suffer a more severe concussion two years later after accidentally being hit in the head by a teammate's knee. He had not played a game since Dec. 15, 2002 to the day he retired nearly 3 years later.

"It's been the toughest decision I've had to make in my life, yet the easiest one," Deadmarsh said. "I say that because I'm retiring from a game I love to play and played all my life, but I think three years with symptoms from concussions is a good indicator that it would probably be a smart move to call it quits. I have a family and that to consider as well."

Deadmarsh, a former first-round draft pick of the Quebec Nordiques, had 184 goals and 373 assists during his NHL career. He played a tough, hard-hitting game and was described as "rugged, strong-skating winger with good skills and is valued for his courageous physical play."

The Nordiques of course transferred to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche. Soon after the Avs and Detroit Red Wings engaged in one of hockey's most bitter rivalries.

Colorado had the likes of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy, but Adam Deadmarsh was very much respected as a clutch player, especially in the playoffs.

"When we played Colorado, I always thought that Adam Deadmarsh was their best player," said Detroit forward Kris Draper. "He always seemed to score the big goal or make the big play. Every time he was on the ice he was doing something against our hockey club. Deadmarsh is one of those guys that you need to be aware of on the ice because he is going to come out and finish every check. He plays the physical game as well as anybody and he's fast. A lot of people don't realize what a good skater he is, but he is a very strong skater with a knack for the net."

Deadmarsh played six years with the Colorado Avalanche and won a Stanley Cup with the club in 1996, which he said is his career highlight. He was traded to the Kings for defenceman Rob Blake in 2001.

Deadmarsh responded with his best season, scoring a career high 62 points including 29 goals. He really impressed in a season without Sakic or Forsberg.

"Deadmarsh is better than I ever thought," said Luc Robitaille. "His work ethic was always known to us because every time we played Colorado we had to be aware of him, but Deadmarsh is also a great hockey player. He is a great playmaker and can score goals. He is a real dangerous player who plays so hard, forechecking and going to the net. This guy has great hands, he can make plays and put the puck in the net."

Deadmarsh was on pace for an even bigger campaign in his second season in LA. He had 13 goals in 20 games before the accidental knee to the head that ended his career.

Deadmarsh was from Trail, British Columbia. But since his mother was an American he was a dual citizen. He chose to play for the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1998 and 2002.

After leaving the game "Deader" escaped the game and moved to Idaho. But in 2009 he returned to the Colorado Avalanche as an assistant coach.

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