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Blues' Courtnall Retiring?


A second concussion in less than a year might force St. Louis Blues forward Geoff Courtnall to retire.

The team announced Monday that Courtnall, who missed 4 1/2 months last season with a concussion, suffered a Grade 2 concussion Saturday during the Blues' 4-2 win over Toronto. The injury occurred when Maple Leafs defenseman Bryan Berard elbowed the 37-year-old left wing on the chin.

Courtnall was evaluated Monday by Blues neurologist Dr. Ralph Dacey, who prescribed 10-15 days of bed rest. After that time, Dacey will reevaluate Courtnall.

Courtnall didn't comment Monday, but management and teammates expressed concern for his future outside of hockey.

"He has to think about the rest of his life and his family when he's making these decisions," Blues captain Chris Pronger said. "I'm sure he'll have a couple of long weeks to think over what he's going to have to do and be prepared to do it."

Although no one said Courtnall should retire, the players' comments seemed to point in that direction. Courtnall and his wife, Penni, have two children Adam, 12, and Justin, 10.

"I am worried about him," defenseman Marc Bergevin said. " I can see his point, that it's hard to walk away, but this is not a leg or an arm. It's his head. He has 40 to 50 good years ahead of him. He doesn't want to wake up one morning and not be able to talk."

Postconcussion syndrome has ended the careers of a number of players in the past few seasons most recently, Jeff Beukeboom of the New York Rangers.

"It's disturbing," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "He feels a bit like he did last year, which is not good."

Last season, Courtnall missed 58 games and suffered mainly from exercise-induced headaches and nausea, as well as dizziness and some vision problems. On Sunday, he woke up with a headache that trainer Ray Barile said lingered Monday.

It took Courtnall several months to recover last season, but only one month this season to suffer a recurrence. Barile said the effects of concussions are cumulative.

"It doesn't take as big a hit to get another one when you've had history of concussions," Barile said.

In addition to Saturday's blow, Courtnall was dazed on a punch to the face by Dallas' Brad Lukowich in a brief scuffle during an exhibition game on Sept. 18.

"It seems like when he gets hit, he gets scrambled again," forward Kelly Chase said. "It doesn't matter whether it's a dirty hit or a clean hit, it's done. He's already hurt, and there's nothing you can do for him."

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