Jonathan Huberdeau will donate brain for CTE research as his agent challenges NHL

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Jonathan Huberdeau made big news this summer as part of a major trade between the Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames involving Matthew Tkachuk. After landing in Alberta, Huberdeau made another splash by signing an 8 year-extension with an AAV of $10.5 million.

Now he’s making even more important news after pledging to donate his brain for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other brain injuries.

“As an NHL player, I’m very aware of the impact of traumatic brain injuries, concussions and the link to other mental health issues,” Huberdeau said in a press release. “I’m proud to support Canadian military veterans by pledging to donate my brain to Project Enlist and support research to improve the quality of life of all military personnel who so bravely and courageously served our country.”

Jonathan Huberdeau will donate brain for research

jonathan huberdeau
Oct 25, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (11) scores a goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Huberdeau, 29, had a big year in Florida scoring 115 points in 80 games.

The native of Jerome, Quebec will donate his brain to Project Enlist Canada, a program created by the Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada. He joins former astronaut Marc Garneau, All-Ivy hockey star Kalley Armstrong and 170 Canadian Armed Forces members or veterans to help the cause.

The first NHL player to make such a pledge was defenseman Ben Lovejoy back in 2017.

“This game has given me everything,” Lovejoy said. “I’ve had very little brain trauma throughout my career but I do think it’s important for the game to continue to get safer and I think that you do that by science and by research and this is me doing my small part.”

Huberdeau’s agent, Allan Walsh is a huge proponent for player safety and has been a harsh critic on the NHL’s handling of recent head trauma research.

After an article in the Toronto Star citing a study by 14 scientists linking concussions to CTE, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly response infuriated Walsh.

“A single medical article does not determine our views on the issue.,” Daly said.

Walsh called the league’s comments insulting and predictable.

Back in 2018, the NHL paid nearly $19 million to settle a concussion lawsuit filed by 146 plaintiffs. Since then, the league has worked with the NHLPA to improve concussion protocols for early detection and treatment.

Despite these efforts, more work needs to be done in order to ensure player safety and to reduce head injuries.

The battle still rages on as more research continues to be done on the subject.