Former NHL player Marek Svatos’ wife confirms he had CTE

In a series of interviews with TSN, former NHL forward Marek Svatos’ wife Diana confirmed that the forward suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy at the time of his death in 2016.

Svatos was 34 on November 4, 2016 when he died at his Colorado home. According to Diana, the official cause of death was ruled an accidental overdose.

« I want people to know that Marek was a good person who loved his family and made decisions because of CTE, not because he was a bad person, » Diana told TSN’s Rick Westhead.

Diana said her husband suffered at least half a dozen documented concussions during his NHL career from 2003-04 to 2010-11. She donated Marek’s brain to Boston University researchers days after his death. A year after her death, Diana said she received a pathology report showing Marek had stage 2 CTE, which is often the cause of depression, headaches and memory loss.

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« I don’t know how many times I’ve heard him say ‘the lights went out’ after he had a concussion, » she said. « I’ve heard it enough times to remember that phrase. »

Svatos played 344 games with Colorado, Nashville and Ottawa, scoring a career-high 32 goals and 50 points with Colorado in his rookie season in 2005-06.

Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden has called for a zero-tolerance policy on head shots in hockey. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there was « no conclusive link » between consistent head impacts and CTE. In recent years, Todd Ewen, Steve Montador, Rick Martin, Bob Probert Stan Mikita and Derek Boogard have all been diagnosed with CTE.

In 2018, the NHL settled an $18.9 million lawsuit with 318 former NHL players who accused the league of downplaying the dangers of traumatic brain injury.

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« Being honest about the extent of the problem would be a good first step for the NHL, » Diana said.

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