There were two key inspirations, one likely, one unlikely, for Logan Couture’s “All-in For Brain Research” fundraiser.
The annual celebrity charity casino night, heading into its third summer — with all proceeds going to important concussion, education and awareness programs in London and Kitchener/Waterloo — will be held on August 15 in London, Ontario. This follows last month’s event, held for the second time in Kitchener, Ontario. For more information about this Thursday’s happenings, go to the London native’s website.
A familiar face, his own Hall of Fame career derailed by concussions, is an important influence on these fundraisers.
“I’ve had help from Eric Lindros,” Couture told Fear the Fin. “He’s done a lot in my hometown. Donated a lot of money to the hospital and university there for this type of research. I decided to join in and he kind of stepped back and let me run this event the last couple years.”
Couture has contended with concussions himself. He had two in juniors and one documented concussion in the NHL.
“I know what it does to you as a person. It changes people,” he said. “There are some dark days and long-term effects. It’s something that needs to be addressed.”
What’s striking is that Couture is the one trying to address it.
Playing in a league that recently settled a concussion lawsuit with over 300 retired players, but concurrently, refused to admit liability for these players’ head injuries, the San Jose Sharks star is the rare active NHL player on the front lines of this powder keg issue. Another is Dominic Moore, who played in Switzerland last season. Moore hosts Smashfest, a summer ping pong tournament benefiting concussion and rare cancer research.
Couture did note, telling the London Free Press in 2017, “In the NHL, we get great treatment. But when you see young kids suffering brain injuries and they’re not diagnosed or come back to play too early and get hurt again, that’s something I believe can improve with more funding and research.”
In addition to concussions, Couture is tackling other areas of brain research.
Couture’s business manager, Jeff Fischer, told Fear the Fin, “We said brain research so we could expand into brain cancer, Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
Couture’s love of music was an instigator for this widened scope.
Fischer said, “The year that the Sharks went to the Final was The Tragically Hip’s final tour. Logan sent out a tweet saying something like I’m not sure what’s more exciting, playing the Penguins in the Final or The Tragically Hip coming to London.
“I sent that to the band, and they sent Tragically Hip hats to all of the Canadians on the Sharks at the Pittsburgh hotel.”
In October 2017, Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, passed away from glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. He was 53.
“Logan was looking for something unique to do as a charitable cause,” Fischer recalled.
“This is something I thought needed to be addressed. Research still needs to be done,” Couture said. “My doctors in my hometown do a great job with it, I wanted to help them as much as I could.”
One of these doctors is Fischer’s wife, Dr. Lisa Fischer. It was Dr. Fischer and other local institutions who helped Lindros deal with his many concussions.
“Hockey is a great game, Logan loves it. You don’t want to see the game affected because of an injury issue,” Fischer said. “It’s a Canadian game, our national game, we love it.”