The financial toll of career-ending concussions in professional hockey

Written by Hiploylee C, Wennberg R & Tator CH

Aim: Several high-profile professional hockey players have retired due to career-ending concussions sustained in the National Hockey League (NHL). We sought to determine the salary cost of career-ending concussions in the NHL. Methods: Concussion-induced retirements from 1995 to 2015 were identified using public media sources. The number of missed games due to a player’s final concussion was multiplied by per game salary to determine cost. Results: In total, 35 players were identified: the total cost to teams and insurers of career-ending concussions was US$135,476,777. Half of the total consisted of salaries owing three players with contracts still active in 2015. Conclusion: The financial impact of concussion-induced retirements provides another reason for professional leagues to take measures to better protect their players from concussion.
Concussions suffered in the National Hockey League (NHL) and other professional leagues leading to postconcussion syndrome (PCS) and professional athletes’ premature retirement have been well recognized [1–4], but there has been no report of the financial implications for teams in terms of lost salary costs.

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