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Boyle: In hindsight, I returned from my concussion too soon

Jan 18, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 14: Dan Boyle #22 of the San Jose Sharks skates down the ice against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on January 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. Getty Images

Back in December and more than a month after returning from a concussion, San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle suggested that there was more to this story than he was ready to talk about.

It’s only now that he’s finally ready to open up about the problems he faced in his recovery that extended far beyond his Nov. 2 return.

“In hindsight — and it wasn’t the team that was forcing me, it was all me — it would have been a good idea for me to stay away a little longer,” Boyle admitted to the San Jose Mercury News.

When St. Louis Blues forward Maxim Lapierre knocked him out on Oct. 15, he went through a period of about two weeks were he would sleep all the time.

When that phase was over he returned despite the fact that new problems were arising.

“I wasn’t eating. My wife was concerned,” Boyle said. “I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t feeling good.”

There were times where he played on just one or two hours sleep. He admitted that it got to the point where he was like a “zombie” and it made him sluggish on the ice.

It wasn’t until just before Christmas that Boyle finally reached out to the Sharks for help. They got him to talk with the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine and that’s proven to be a big help.

At this point Boyle feels the issue is behind him, which is why he’s comfortable sharing it with the public. But it does stand up both as an example of the lingering problems that can arise from head injuries and what some will put themselves through for the sake of being in the lineup.

  1. ibieiniid - Jan 18, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    my first instinct is to praise him for his toughness, but upon further thought, it was more irresponsible than anything. nothing against Boyle, he’s a very respectable player, but that’s irresponsible on two levels: to his team and to himself.

    I’m sure his team would rather have him later in the season and in his career than for a few weeks in the middle of a season in which the sharks are doing quite well. he had the potential to end up being a burden on their cap, a la Pronger.

    more importantly… well, we all know what he could have been committing to dealing with for the rest of his life by stepping back out too early.

    the only part we as fans can do to cure this problem is to respectfully discourage it, I’m (somewhat) sure his team has already done the same. do not praise this type of thing.

    I really hope his team has taken the right steps to reprimand him. good luck with the symptoms, Danny.

    • ibieiniid - Jan 18, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      Well maybe Pronger was a bad comparison, based on Boyle’s contract… but I think the more important point remains.

    • joey4id - Jan 18, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      I would saw irresponsible on 3 levels when it comes to his health; first and foremost to his immediate family, himself, then his team.

      • ethanmacleod1685 - Jan 18, 2014 at 7:26 PM

        Joey, when I read your posts, it seriously kills my vibes. You are a massive idiot, seriously !

      • joey4id - Jan 18, 2014 at 8:12 PM

        Ethan! FU! Seriously! Hahahahahaha! :-))

  2. sabatimus - Jan 18, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Isn’t a player supposed to be medically cleared in order to come back to the ice? If so, how was Boyle cleared? Did he manage to fake his way through it?

    • joey4id - Jan 18, 2014 at 12:39 PM

      You can’t manage to fake your way through the tests if the tests were performed. Driving w/o sleep is like driving under the influence of alcohon/drugs. You can’t pass your tests if you are like a zombie just like your can’t drive safely. There was a systemic breakdown in the protocol which needs to be investigated. Either the NHL or the NHLPA, or jointly should initiate an investigation by an independent third party. Boyle’s admission could cause ripples in the medical, political, and sports realms.

  3. esracerx46 - Jan 18, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    Its very difficult to tell for a doctor when a player is no longer suffering symptoms. Especially when said player isn’t 100% honest with how they are feeling. Same goes with any ailment. If you’re not telling the doctor everything how can they make an accurate determination on your health. Cognitively speaking, he really could have been all there. But if he’s not telling the doctor he’s not eating and having trouble sleeping, I think its extremely difficult to fault the doctor for returning too early.

    • joey4id - Jan 18, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      If this get passed the medical teams then there is a serious problem in the NHL. We are long past the days when concussions were nothing more than having your bell rung. There are established and proven tests to help determine concussion recovery. One of them is ImPACT. In the early 1990’s, Drs. Mark Lovell and Joseph Maroon developed the ImPACT Test (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) – now the standard tool used in comprehensive clinical management of concussions for athletes.

      “Pre concussion tests are performed to create a baseline and then used to compare the post-concussion test results. Again, using ImPACT as an example, the test asks for demographics on the patient and a history of both present and past concussions. It also asks for a symptom score reported by the athlete across 22 different concussive symptoms. The bulk of the test then tests the athlete’s verbal memory, visual memory, visual motor speed, and reaction time through 6 different modules. These numbers are then reviewed by the physician and can be used to track recovery or lack thereof.”

      This is on the medical staff & the NHL to ensure a player’s safety. If the medical staff failed to accurately diagnose the state of a player following a concussion, then it is on the NHL to proceed with an investigation.

      • shortsxit34 - Jan 18, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        ImPact is far from a proven test. Taking two 30-minute tests could be far from accurate for a player’s norm.

        -A player intentionally scores low on his preseason test, he passes the test even with a concussion.
        -A player is tired or simply has a bad day, he scores low on the initial test and can still pass it with a concussion
        -A concussed player happens to feel good one morning, he passes the test.

        Claiming that the medical teams are in on making concussed players play, or are incompetent, is ridiculous. ImPACT is a great test, but it doesn’t *prove* anything.

    • joey4id - Jan 18, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      So, you are discrediting Drs. Mark Lovell and Joseph Maroon who developed the ImPACT Test? Look! I’m not saying your wrong. I just don’t know enough about what you are saying.

      • shortsxit34 - Jan 18, 2014 at 5:12 PM

        Not at all. I’m saying ImPACT is a tool (and a good one) for diagnosing a concussion, but that’s what it is, a tool. It’s by no means proof that a player does or does not have a concussion. You can misdiagnose a concussion or completely miss a concussion when taking the test.

        Saying that their medical team is incompetent or that they’re intentionally letting concussed players on the ice is ridiculous when we don’t know all (or any) of the facts. Boyle very well could have lied to the medical staff, and those lies very well could have led to him being cleared early. Jumping to blaming the medical staff and asking for an investigation, at this point, is absurd.

      • joey4id - Jan 18, 2014 at 5:16 PM

        So, when do you investigate?

      • shortsxit34 - Jan 18, 2014 at 8:05 PM

        The burden of proof is on you, you’re the one making claims. I can’t prove a negative.

      • joey4id - Jan 18, 2014 at 8:12 PM

        Ah! But you are blind. Keep me reading me and you shall learn. Hahahaha!

  4. sjsharks66 - Jan 18, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    Poor decision by Boyle. Wish he would let himself get to 100% before he comes back. This is just like him playing on his fractured foot a couple years ago..

    How are these situations getting by the organization??

    • joey4id - Jan 18, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      Every player plays hurt at one point or another. No big deal there. I’ve seen a junior goalie arrive on crutches, get his knees taped and perform. But! No player should ever ever play with concussion symptoms, or sleep deprivation. That’s like playing under the influence of alcohol. I hope he wasn’t driving himself to the rink during that time.

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