This article originally appeared on Sportsnet.ca.
The following text was provided by NHL.com: With a history of injury and illness, and a few years spent in a coma, Mark Messier’s life took a turn in 2000.
For a brief period of time, Messier, then in his 40s, was considered one of the most durable NHL players.
His career spanned from 2000 to 2003, playing for the New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres.
But Messier never quite regained his health.
After suffering a broken leg in 2001, Messiness missed the 2001 playoffs for the first time in his NHL career.
His only NHL playoff win came in 2002.
His body slowly began to deteriorate.
Messier began taking drugs, including the prescription drug Ambien, which can cause psychosis and psychosis-like symptoms, among other side effects.
His condition worsened even more in 2003.
As the years went by, Messiers mental state began to get progressively worse.
In late 2004, the team decided to take Messier off the ice.
The NHL suspended Messier for a year, but he never fully recovered.
During that time, his body began to weaken.
In July 2007, Messies brain was found to be 95 per cent damaged and that of his wife, Kelly, was 93 per cent.
Messiers death, which happened at age 40, became one of several tragedies to hit the NHL in recent years.
Since the lockout ended in November, the NHL has struggled to get back on track.
Messiness’ death has become a rallying cry for those who feel the league has lost its way.
Messier’s wife, Joyce, is also a hockey player, and has a personal connection to the sport.
She played for the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks in the 1990s and 2000s, as well as for the St. Louis Blues in the mid-2000s.
“When I first started playing, I remember watching a game in Chicago with Mark and he got hit in the head with a stick and he couldn’t walk,” said Joyce Messier.
“I remember that the first thing I thought was, ‘Oh, my God, how could that happen?'”
“It was so horrific,” Joyce Messie added.
“The guy was in such a bad way.
He couldn’t even talk, he couldn, he didn’t have any emotions.”
Messiers mother, Debra, says her son’s death was not the only tragedy to hit hockey.
“We were really lucky that Mark was still alive and was able to get the help he needed and his family was able for him to recover,” she said.
“It was devastating for the players.
They all got the news in the days following his death.”