Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ex-Penguins D Explains Decision to Donate Brain

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ex-Penguins D Explains Decision to Donate Brain

Article excerpt

NEWARK, N.J. - Roughly two months ago, former Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy became the first active NHL player to say he will donate his brain to CTE research.

Lovejoy, now with New Jersey, made the decision for many reasons, but one of the biggest was the concussion issues he saw Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang experience during his time in Pittsburgh.

"A ton of people have made impressions on me, but yes, those two guys were definitely a part of it," Lovejoy said Saturday after the Devils morning skate.

Upon the 33-year-old's death, his brain will go to the Concussion Legacy Foundation's brain bank at Boston University.

Lovejoy became interested in the idea over the summer, when he read an article about NFL players donating their brains for concussion research and wondered why no hockey players were doing it.

"This game has been awesome to me," said Lovejoy, a Dartmouth product. "It's given me everything. ... This brain donation is my way of giving back to the sport of hockey."

Aston-Reese debuts

After an early season issue with a wisdom tooth, Zach Aston-Reese hit his stride and in the past month was Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's best player.

Saturday, Aston-Reese was rewarded with a promotion and the chance to make his NHL debut in a place that's plenty familiar.

"It doesn't really matter where it is," the Staten Island, N.Y., native said before the Penguins game against New Jersey at Prudential Center. "It's nice to be home and in a familiar place."

It's also nice to not be in pain.

Aston-Reese had a slow start to the season because he had a wisdom tooth grow in sideways. He didn't say anything because he thought he would sound like a complainer, but it hampered his sleep and his game.

"I finally told someone," Aston-Reese recalled Friday night after a 4-1 win for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. "I felt a lot better. I was playing pretty bad."

The pain started in late August. Surgery occurred the third week of October.

The conversation that convinced Aston-Reese to speak up was with Mark Recchi, the Penguins assistant who said he experienced something similar in his playing career.

Before Aston-Reese met with Pittsburgh media about 90 minutes before puck drop, he had a meeting with Recchi to go over portions of the Penguins team concept. …

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