A month after retiring from the NHL, former goaltender Anders Nilsson detailed the brutal concussion-related symptoms he faced as his hockey career came to a crashing end.
The 31-year-old recently spoke to a Swedish sports and media outlet, sharing some pretty horrific stories surrounding his battle with traumatic head injuries — one that really began to impact his life negatively during an October 2019 game in Vegas against the Golden Knights.
(The following was translated from Swedish to English and may contain slight errors in language.)
"I felt a bit dazed then, but finished the game. I didn't have a headache and if you don't have a headache you don't have a concussion. That's the mentality in the NHL. But after that hit I just felt tired all the time."
Nilsson was hit in the head with a shot a few months later, and his symptoms intensified to the point of being almost unbearable.
"I became extremely sensitive to light and wore sunglasses even to dinners with my family. I slept for hours upstairs in our house, but got annoyed just from the tv being on downstairs. It took a year for me just to be able to walk into a grocery store again."
Nilsson played his final 20 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators during the 2019-20 campaign before being dealt to the Lightning in December of 2020. He never suited up for Tampa and became an unrestricted free agent this past summer before deciding to hang up the skates in August.
The former NHL netminder says that though his hockey career is over, the detrimental effects from his head injuries are still lingering and impacting his day-to-day life in a big way.
"When I realized I wouldn't be able to continue my hockey career I started focusing on having a good everyday life. It's been a tough one-and-a-half year. And I don't really miss hockey that much, because I feel so bad whenever I try working out.
"I still wear sunglasses even on overcast days. Sometimes it's hard to be around the kids, just because I'm so sensitive to light and sound. I'm constantly tired and I get angry easily. But I'm just thankful I've gotten to where I am today," he said, according to the translated interview.
When announcing his retirement on Instagram last month, Nilsson wrote: "My post-concussion symptoms and neck problems make it impossible for me to continue as a professional goalie.
"Obviously not the way I wanted my career to end, but I got to achieve my dream as a kid to play in the NHL and represent my home country Sweden on the world stage."
A third-round pick of the Islanders in 2009 Nilsson carved out a nice seven-season career as a journeyman backup goaltender, spending time with the Isles, Oilers, Blues, Sabres, Canucks and Senators with a career
Nilsson backstopped Sweden to an IIHF world championship gold in 2018.
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