Detroit Red Wings: NHL and players reach Concussion Settlement

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 27: Johan Franzen #93 of the Detroit Red Wings goes to his knees after a collision late in the first period of the game against the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena on November 27, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 27: Johan Franzen #93 of the Detroit Red Wings goes to his knees after a collision late in the first period of the game against the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena on November 27, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The NHL and the retired players have come to terms on a new concussion settlement worth 19 million dollars.  As concussions have become more of the forefront in many sports, I can’t help but wonder about some former Detroit Red Wings players.

That is not 19 million per player.  It is 19 million total dollars for all the players involved in the lawsuit.  It is a very underwhelming number, that has too many limitations. There are many players affected by this but the two Detroit Red Wings I think of first are Johan Franzen and Joe Murphy.  Murph more because of the handful of stories that have surfaced recently. It is almost as if he was a forgotten guy.

What the NHL will mention is that player safety is one of the most concerning topics of interest throughout all of their meetings, but their actions prove otherwise.   A guy like Joe Murphy, the Detroit Red Wings first overall selection in the 1986 entry level draft.

Murphy described having a problem shortly after the conclusion of his playing career.  His family noticed changes in his demeanor.  He started to drink and unfortunately dabbled into the drug game at the tail end of his career.  He claims he made the phone call to the league for guidance and assistance but was turned away as he had already retired.

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He isn’t in a good place; he’s roamed from homeless shelter to shelter throughout Ontario, Canada.  He was found by Trevor Kidd and others from TSN up in Kenora, ON near Thunder Bay, ON.  He was preparing to try and survive the winter in the bush.  If you think our winter’s here can be harsh, Northern Ontario is a whole other monster.  The snowfall amounts are massive, and the cold air is staggering.

He is in a dangerous place; Admitting to battling depression and having suicidal thoughts, he isn’t accepting treatment, he doesn’t want help or pitty.  The problem is he clearly isn’t able to form rational opinions.  His brain appears to be like scrambled eggs being shaken in a pan.  One minute, he can build memories and thoughts, the next minute he is looking behind thinking he is on the ice, looking for a late man he needs to pick up joining the rush.  Then with a snap of your fingers, he is asking reporters who they are looking for.

It is an unfortunate situation, players like this although some of their decisions are self-inflicted need help after hockey.  According to the report per Stephen Whyno, Associated Press;  Each player who opts into the deal will receive a cash sum of 22,000 dollars along with 75,000 dollars in medical treatment.  There is a catch here though.  The treatment seekers will be forced to see an NHL and NHLPA doctor to determine if they qualify for the 75,000 treatment.  Are you kidding me?  Who does this benefit?  These doctors are being paid by the NHL, who do you think benefits here?

Comparing the NHL to NFL on the same issue;

"The settlement is significantly less than the billion-dollar agreement reached between the NFL and its former players on the same issue of head injuries. Each player who opts in would receive $22,000 and could be eligible for up to $75,000 in medical treatment.The NFL settlement covers more than 20,000 retired players, and lawyers expect payouts to top $1.5 billion over 65 years. As of last month , the NFL concussion lawsuit claims panel has approved more than $500 million in awards and paid out $330 million."

Johan Franzen is still a member of the Detroit Red Wings for two more seasons.  He is currently placed on LTIR (long-term injury reserve).  He has had many problems occurring from the string of concussions he sustained which ended his playing career much too soon.  He has had to seek treatment for his post-concussion syndrome.  His wife Cissi shared some of Franzen’s journey with Helene St.James of;

"“First day when we came was a great day, so nice to see each other again. Second day – terrible and we got into a huge fight. Probably normal in most relationships, but when you have an brain injury it adds up, and it becomes SO not rational. The brain just can’t (pause) and take a break when it’s overloaded and can’t recover. He bounced back to a very dark and sad place. However, I’m glad it happened while we were there.“Living with a husband with a brain injury is not easy, it’s like a rollercoaster. But I am doing my best to get us to a better place, not only for us and but also for our amazing boys that deserve the best!!”"

These are only two examples of hundreds.  The NHL needs to do more than $22,000 plus a possible $75,000 if deemed necessary.  Fighting is down and doesn’t necessarily need to be banned, but the league needs to rid themselves of headhunters like Tom Wilson in Washington.

Next. Former Detroit Red Wings forward Joe Murphy Living Homeless. dark

Wilson’s suspension was just reduced.  If player safety is at the forefront of the league, suspend these players for a significant amount, without pay and hold them accountable.  Reducing the suspension every time won’t really prevent this from happening.  Harsh suspension for even a first time offender will grab the attention of head hunting players and avoid those nasty, unnecessary headshots.