NHLer forced to retire at 31 years-of-age due to head injury

Published August 28, 2023 at 8:53

The focus on concussions in contact sports is a relatively new phenomena. There is a lot that we didn't know before that we know now, but there's also a lot we don't yet know about the human brain and the long-term effects of repeated head trauma. We're still learning, but what we know now is scary enough.

As recently as this past season, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has denied that the NHL has a problem with concussions. Even punishing blindside hits with suspensions hasn't really prevented players from taking runs at vulnerable opponents. With the speed and intensity at which the game is played now, it doesn't leave a lot of room for error and when players fail to adjust accordingly it can lead to an awful outcome.

On the subject of concussions, veteran NHL forward Joonas Donskoi, who last played for the Seattle Kraken in 2021-22, has officially announced his retirement from the NHL at the age of 31 through a post on Instagram late last night.

Born in Raahe, Finland, Donskoi was drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers. He ended up spending 5 seasons post-draft with Karpat in the SM-Liiga before having his NHL rights relinquished by the Panthers. He signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks and spent 4 seasons between 2015-16 to 2018-19 with the club.

Donskoi then signed a 4-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche before being exposed by the club ahead of the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft after just 2 seasons. In his one season with the Kraken, he struggled to find his offensive touch with just 2 goals and 22 points in 75 games in what ultimately became his final season in the NHL.

In total, Donskoi scored 80 goals and 208 points in 474 games across 7 seasons with 3 different clubs. His best run came in his short-tenured 2 years with Colorado where he scored 33 goals and 64 points in 126 games.

Unfortunately he suffered a concussion in a pre-season game in 2022 and ended up missing the entire season, as he explained at the beginning of his post:

"After suffering multiple concussions over my career I've decided to retire from professional hockey. It is extremely hard to let go of something you have put your whole life into, but at this point I know it's the right decision for my own well being and future."

You can see Donskoi's full comments below.

All the best to Joonas in his recovery and in whatever comes next for him during life after hockey.
August 28   |   168 answers
NHLer forced to retire at 31 years-of-age due to head injury

Do you think concussions are a problem in contact sports?

Yes, leagues need improved safety measures8751.8 %
No, these guys know what they're signing up for3118.5 %
Harsher punishments for dirty hits would fix it5029.8 %
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