In some sad news today, former Flames' first-rounder Kris Chucko has announced his retirement from hockey due to ongoing concussion problems. The 25-year old appeared in just two NHL games for the Flames after being drafted out of the BCHL.
Chucko told Dhiren Mahiban that his problems began last year after suffering his second concussion just two games into the Abbotsford Heat's season:
"My decision was based on how I felt, how crappy I felt and have felt for the last 11 to 12 months, and the six or seven months (after) the first one. When you sit at home with a headache for six or seven months straight, the decision doesn't come too hard."
"If you took out a concussion symptoms chart I was feeling pretty much all of them. Dizziness, vision, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, nausea, sickness — you can go right down the list to the very bottom, other than memory."
"On the second hit my neck just deteriorated, I can't lift a heavy bag of groceries yet, so I'm not working out or lifting weights cause I get these shooting pains down the back of my neck and it's pretty uncomfortable."
Chucko said the recent research that has been conducted and released about the effects of head trauma as a result of concussions contributed to his decision to retire.
"I love hockey, but I love life too...I don't miss having the headache every day and I don't miss wondering if I'm ever going to get better. I don't miss worrying about my health."
"When you're playing hockey, you always know there's going to be life after hockey, but you don't really plan for it, especially at 25"
Chucko will continue to pursue a business management degree at the University of Minnesota, where he was granted a scholarship before he began his pro hockey career with the Flames' farm squad.
Regardless of Chucko's success or lackthereof, it's always sad to see a player forced to retire prematurely from the game because of a health problem they have no control over. Chucko sounds like a smart man who is in the right frame of mind when it comes to life after his hockey career, and I think I speak for all of us here when I wish him a successful recovery and all the best in his future endeavors.