Predators star died with CTE after taking his own life in 2019

Predators star died with CTE after taking his own life in 2019

Former Predators captain Greg Johnson had CTE when he died by suicide in 2019, his family and the Concussion Legacy Foundation announced on Wednesday.

Johnson, who passed away in Detroit on July 7, 2019, at the age of 48, was diagnosed with CTE by Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the Boston University CTE Center.

“This diagnosis took my breath away,” Kristin Johnson, Greg’s wife of 22 years, said in a press release. “Greg’s death shattered our world, and we never once thought this disease was something he struggled with. He experienced very few symptoms that we knew of, but he spoke of his concussions often.


Greg Johnson playing for the Predators in 2006.
Greg Johnson playing for the Predators in 2006. UPI

“I remember the exact moment he told me his heart condition forcing him to retire was a blessing because he couldn’t take another hit. He knew his hockey career had a profound impact on his brain.”

Johnson played 12 seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Detroit Red Wings, in addition to his time in Nashville, where he played from 1998 to 2006. 

“I had no idea what CTE even stood for when my dad took his life,” Carson Johnson, Greg’s eldest daughter, said, per the release. “Now understanding that the hits he endured throughout his hockey career damaged his brain, I want all athletes to understand the risks and I want the NHL to start acknowledging it exists and do more to protect its players so other daughters don’t have to lose their fathers.”

CTE is a neurodegenerative brain disease linked to repeated concussions and blows to the head. 

A study cited by the CLF said a concussion doubles the risk of suicide, although a diagnosis “should not be considered as the cause of a suicide.”

Public studies have found that 17 of 18 NHL players examined in the U.S. and Canada have had CTE, according to the foundation.

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