IN RARE INTERVIEWS – “60 MINUTES SPORTS” PREMIERES
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4 AT 9 P.M. ONLY ON SHOWTIME®
Scott Parker & Dan LaCouture Recall Being Expected To Engage In Brutal Fights
They Say Damaged Their Brains And Drove Them To Join
A Concussion Lawsuit Against The NHL
NEW YORK (March 2, 2015) – They were the guys on the ice beating the heck out of an opposing player, or getting the heck beat out of them. Now they say they are suffering for it. Two of hockey’s former “enforcers” are speaking out about their violent roles in what was once a hallmark of the sport: fighting on the ice. Scott Parker and Dan LaCouture tell Armen Keteyian the brawls they say they were expected to take part in have damaged their brains, and have blamed the NHL by joining a class action concussion lawsuit against the league. Keteyian’s report on living – and some dead – former NHL enforcers is featured on the next edition of 60 MINUTES SPORTS, Wednesday, March 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT only on SHOWTIME.
LaCouture, 37, says his body feels fine. “But not my head…I’m depressed…I don’t feel right.” Parker, 37, failed a basic agility test that can assess brain damage. “Some days I wake up and I’m 80…some days I just feel broken,” he says.
Players like the 6-foot-4, 245 pound Parker, who was called “The Sheriff,” were used by teams to intimidate. He would retaliate if an opposing player roughed up his teammate – especially a star teammate – by starting a fight that often ended up bloody and always got him and the opposing player out of the game for extended penalty periods. If that player he fought was the opposing team’s star player, all the better. Parker says he had hundreds of fights; he suffered concussions.
Parker says he actually trained for his role. “I would wrap my hands with chains and I would callous up my hands…and I would hit trees. I would just smoke trees,” he tells Keteyian. The former Colorado Avalanche player also reveals a technique he used to win fights. He says he would grab an opponent’s collar and drive a finger into his throat. “I’m putting my finger down your esophagus…I can manipulate you and put you where I want.”
Fighting isn’t as big a part of the game as it once was. The NHL is emphasizing skills over brawn these days as more players join the concussion lawsuit that now numbers dozens of plaintiffs. Only a few years ago it was a huge part of the game, and you had to fight if that was your role, says the 6-foot-2 LaCouture. “It’s looked upon me because of my size to do something about it,” he says referring to retaliation for a cheap shot, or a rough check against a teammate.
LaCouture played hockey in college well enough to make it to the pros. He wanted to score goals, not bash heads, he says. Asked by Keteyian if he ever told coaches or executives he didn’t want to be the enforcer or the “goon,” he replies, “Yeah, [but they would say] ‘That’s your role…on the fourth line. If you don’t like it there’s the door.’”
Keteyian also interviews Len Boogaard, whose son, Derek, was an NHL enforcer. Derek died at age 28 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and the prescription drugs he became addicted to after suffering many injuries. The father is suing the NHL for wrongful death and lists the vast amount of drugs prescribed to his son by NHL doctors in the suit.
The NHL declined requests to appear in the story or answer questions about the issues it raises.
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MLB VP SAYS LEAGUE WILL LAUNCH A COMPREHENSIVE,
FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND STUDY TO LEARN WHY SO MANY
GOOD YOUNG ARMS ARE GOING BAD – “60 MINUTES SPORTS” WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4 ONLY ON SHOWTIME®
A “Pitching Doctor” Says MLB is Behind the Times
NEW YORK (March 3, 2015) – Too many top-notch pitchers are having major surgery too soon in their careers and Major League Baseball wants to know why. Senior VP for League Strategy Chris Marinak tells Jeff Glor that beginning this spring MLB will begin its first extended study to determine what’s happening. Marinak will be part of a story about pitching that examines a body of science that doesn’t always agree with the conventional wisdom about throwing a baseball on the next edition of 60 MINUTES SPORTS, this Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME.
Among those to miss whole seasons or significant periods due to Tommy John surgery are Mets pitcher Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, Matt Moore of the Tampa Bay Ray and Ivan Nova of the Yankees. All are at the beginning of their careers. All have had the surgery.
What is MLB doing about this, asks Glor. “We’re actually about to begin a study this spring that looks at many different factors on pitchers,” says Marinak. “We’re going to gather MRIs, biomechanical information, medical histories. We’re going to do a physical exam…range of motion studies on a group of pitchers. And then we’re going to watch them for five years…who got hurt, who didn’t get hurt,” he says.
The league had been worrying about its valuable arms for some time when last year it decided to try to influence pitchers at the very young, amateur level to prevent those major league injuries. “The final straw was when our rookie of the year, Jose Fernandez, went down last year…What we did was we brought together the foremost experts in the medical community,” says Marinak. They told them to focus on youth.
MLB has already started a website called “Pitch Smart” for young pitchers and their parents to give them access to the correct information about when to rest, when to pitch and the many myths surrounding Tommy John surgery.
Glor speaks to former major league pitcher Tom House, a “pitching doctor” and the author of 19 books on the art of pitching. House uses the latest technology, including 3-D imaging and special cameras, to detect things the eye cannot pick up in a thrower’s motion. He thinks what MLB is doing is long overdue. “I think eventually they’re going to realize that if they don’t start keeping the kids healthier at nine, 10, 11, 12 years old, it’s going to ultimately affect the bottom line with major league players,” he says “I think baseball overall is 10 years behind the other sports – the technology involved in other sports is out there, they’re using it. Baseball is just now starting to realize that it could help.”
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