NYT: America’s Assignment Desk (Bob Probert Edition)

Thursday New York Times page one report:

Hockey Brawler Paid Price, With Brain Trauma

TECUMSEH, Ontario — For 16 seasons, Bob Probert’s fists were two of hockey’s most notorious weapons, winning most of his 246 fights and feeding the N.H.L.’s fondness for bare-knuckle brawling.

But the legacy of Probert, who died last July of heart failure at 45, could soon be rooted as much in his head as his hands. After examining Probert’s brain tissue, researchers at Boston University said this week that they found the same degenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, whose presence in more than 20 deceased professional football players has prompted the National Football League to change some rules and policies in an effort to limit dangerous head impacts.

As night follows the day, Thursday WBUR “All Things Considered” report:

BOSTON — Over the course of his 16 seasons in the National Hockey League, Bob Probert gained a reputation as an aggressor. He took part in nearly 250 on-ice brawls, and he racked up 3,300 penalty minutes along the way.

Probert died of a heart attack last year at the age of 45. Since then, researchers at Boston University have found that the constant hits he took to his head may have been a factor in why he developed a degenerative brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Brain trauma caused by hockey is a condition that hits close to home in Boston; earlier this season, the Bruins lost stars Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard to concussions.

Chris Nowinski, a co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, spoke with WBUR’s All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeifferabout what the NHL is doing to reduce head injuries among its athletes — and whether the culture of fighting in professional hockey is contributing to brain trauma among players.

If for economic reasons the Times scales back its news coverage, every news organization scales back its news coverage.

For better or worse, those are the stakes.

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