Bernie Nicholls: The damage hockey did to my brain
I had a pretty spectacular 17-year career playing in the National Hockey League. Who would have thought a kid from a small town in Canada would have 475 career goals in 1,127 games? Yet despite these great seasons, as I look back on my career 36 years after it began, I have come to realize that the NHL, although satisfying and enjoyable at the time, led to permanent brain damage and has irreparably damaged my health.
Getting the call to play in the NHL was a pivotal moment in my life. I am from a small town in Ontario, one of no more than 100 people. While we only have one garage, one store, one laundromat and one restaurant, we have a lot of hockey. And when I heard I was going to the Los Angeles Kings, it felt like I was going from the smallest place in the world to the biggest city. And although it was a culture shock at first, the move allowed me to play the sport at a higher level than I ever imagined.