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Documentary tells career-ending concussion story of former St. John's IceCap Connor Crisp

Connor Crisp played for the St. John's IceCaps during two seasons, but only appeared in 17 games for the AHL team, largely because of concussions. The 24-year-old Crisp, who retired from hockey last year, is the subject of a revealing online documentary. — File photo/St. John's IceCaps/Colin Peddle
Connor Crisp played for the St. John's IceCaps during two seasons, but only appeared in 17 games for the AHL team, largely because of concussions. The 24-year-old Crisp, who retired from hockey last year, is the subject of a revealing online documentary. — File photo/St. John's IceCaps/Colin Peddle

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - In these days of tweets, blurbs and Facebook posts, it seems difficult for people to dedicate 15 minutes of their attention to a single subject.

But you would do yourself a favour — especially if you are an athlete or the parent of an athlete — to watch a 14-minute, 27-second online documentary about former St. John’s IceCaps forward Connor Crisp produced by Radio-Canada, the French-language arm of the CBC.

The 24-year-old Crisp, a third-round draft of the Montreal Canadiens in 2014, played  17 games for the American Hockey League’s IceCaps over two seasons (2015-16, 2016-17), which him saw him plagued by concussion symptoms that sidelined him for long stretches.

Crisp, who has now retired from hockey, says he suffered about seven or eight concussions in his career, including one early in his time with the IceCaps. It came in a 2015 fight against Derek Mathers of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and, although Crisp claims it’s the only concussion he suffered while fighting,  it was the one he believes triggered the health problems that eventually ended his hockey career.

After his 17 games with St. John’s, the six-foot-three, 220-pound Crisp appeared in 87 ECHL contests before retiring last year.

There is a lot of underlying emotion in the piece and wonderful honesty from Crisp, who says he loved to fight, and an on-ice scrap felt better than scoring a goal; that he was never forced to fight; that he did so by his own choice, and that he still feels fighting could have a role in the game.

Still, the thesis of the documentary probably comes down to one quote from Crisp, who now lives in his hometown of Alliston, Ont., where he runs a hockey school while still dealing with the lingering effects of the concussions, including migraine headaches.

“I don’t have a Stanley Cup to give up, I don’t have millions of dollars to give up, buy yeah, there’s a lot I’d give up just to feel normal,” he said.

Crisp’s story may or may not change your opinion about fighting in hockey, but it will certainly make you think.

Watch the documentary on the Radio Canada online program, Podium.

All the speaking is English, with French subtitles.


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