Oilers' Comrie retires due to post-concussion syndrome

Edmonton Oilers centre Paul Comrie announced his retirement from the NHL Friday due to ongoing problems from a concussion he suffered after taking a hit on the ice 19 months ago.

The 24-year-old said his decision shouldn't be seen as a sad thing.

"I'm not looking at it that way," Comrie said, at a news conference. "I'm very fortunate. Not only did I get to make the NHL, but I also got to do it in my home town for a team that I grew up idolizing."

This is just the most recent in a long list of players who've had their careers hurt because of concussions.

After his third concussion, Brett Lindros of the New York Islanders couldn't remember playing some shifts and, at times, had trouble dialling a phone. He quit pro hockey at 20.

His brother, star Eric Lindros, just signed with the New York Rangers after his sixth concussion forced him to miss a lot of action. That time off, and personality conflicts, soured his relationship with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Others who have had to quit their careers early include: Jeff Beukeboom, Pat LaFontaine, Dave Taylor, Nick Kypreos and Geoff Courtnall.

Comrie said his only regret was that he didn't get to play professionally with his brother, Mike, 20, a speedy playmaker who showed great promise in his rookie year with the Oilers.

Mike said he expects his brother to excel away from the rink.

"For him to retire at an early age is tough to think about," he said. "He's always been a fighter and he's going to succeed in anything he does in life."

Paul Comrie was scooped up by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the ninth round of the 1997 draft, then traded to the Oilers while he was still playing with the University of Denver Pioneers.

He made the Oilers out of training camp in 1999 and scored one goal and two assists in 15 games to start the season.

After being sent down to the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs he took an elbow to the head on Jan. 7, 2000.

Unaware of the damage done, Paul finished that game.

He hasn't played since.

"It's been a year and a half," he said. "Who knows what could happen with the next hit.

"I still get dizziness and headaches and there just came a point in time where I think I had to listen to the doctor's advice."

Both Comries said they accept this type of risk.

"The players are getting bigger and faster and things like this are going to occur," said Paul. "You have to be prepared to be in this position when you go out on the ice."

Mike said his brother's condition won't make him change his game any.

"You go out and play the game that you love and you don't worry about getting injured. Any day of your life it can happen."

Paul said his future plans are to put his finance marketing education to use, probably in his father's business.

Bill Comrie, who placed 96th on Canadian Business magazine's rich list in 2000, owns The Brick, a nationwide chain of furniture and appliance stores.

By Dan Arsenault