Montreal Forward Blake Geoffrion to Retire at 25

Imagine if your great-grandfather, grandfather, and father worked in the same profession and were legendary at their job. Growing up, you heard numerous stories and tales about them. Imagine you worked your entire life to reach that profession and you suffer an injury that prevents you from continuing on at the age of 25.

You just read what happened to Montreal Canadiens forward Blake Geoffrion. The fourth-generation NHLer who shares bloodlines with Hall of Famers Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and Howie Morenz, suffered a serious head injury in November while playing with Hamilton of the American Hockey League. His recovery has not progressed as well as he hoped, leading him to walking away from the game and informing the legendary Original Six club of his retirement earlier this week.

“I love the game of hockey more than anything and this decision tears me up inside,” Geoffrion said, “but we are talking about my brain. Not a knee or a shoulder. I want to have a family, have kids, play with them and [have] a strong quality of life for another 60 or 70 years.

You can feel nothing but sympathy for Geoffrion, who was drafted by Nashville drafted 56th overall and the Hobey Baker winner in 2010 while at the University of Wisconsin. He is making the right decision because he realizes there is more to life than what happens on a 200-by-85 foot sheet of ice. Geoffrion played 42 games for Nashville and 13 for Montreal in parts of two seasons.

The injury he suffered came at the hands of  Jean-Philippe Cote of the Syracuse Crunch. On Nov. 9, Geoffrion required immediate surgery for a depressed skull fracture that he sustained on a nasty hit that sent both players flying into the boards. As Geoffrion fell to the ice, his head was struck by Cote’s skate blade an inch and an half above his left ear, slicing his skin and fracturing his skull. Geoffrion suffered a seizure and required emergency surgery, when a titanium plate and acrylic bone was implanted to repair the fracture and protect his brain.

“These last three months of recovery have been hell. For two months I would sit in the shower for an hour with no lights on. My head was throbbing. The plate in my head is still sensitive. I’ve tried to put a hockey helmet on four or five times and I can’t even put that on yet,” Geoffrion said.

“I met with four doctors, the last being Dr. Julian Bailes in Chicago, and they all told me the same thing: I should take another career path,” he said. Bailes is chair of the NorthShore University HealthSystem department of neurology in Chicago. Since 1994, Bailes has been a neurological consultant to the NFL Players’ Association.

from L-R: Howie Morenz, Bernie Geoffrion, Danny Geoffrion, Blake Geoffrion.
from L-R: Howie Morenz, Bernie Geoffrion, Danny Geoffrion, Blake Geoffrion.


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