Blackhawks react to Bob Probert news

CHICAGO -- There was mixed reaction, at least from a couple of the Chicago Blackhawks' tough guys, to the news that former Hawks enforcer Bob Probert had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

CTE, as it's commonly referred to, is a progressive brain disease believed to be caused by repetitive trauma to the brain, including concussions or sub-concussive blows.

Probert died last July of heart failure and donated his brain for study, after seeing a "60 Minutes" segment on the long-term effect of concussions on athletes.

It's helped reignite the debate on fighting in hockey. Hawks heavyweight John Scott doesn't like some conclusions people are drawing.

"I don't like how they just link it to fighters," he said Friday morning. "Anybody can get concussions. I think I've had one in my whole career.

"There is stigma to fighting. Don't eliminate fighting because they think it causes concussions. It happens everywhere. It can happen playing touch football in your backyard."

Scott believes very few concussions occur because of hockey fights.

"I bet if you did a study, you'd find more concussions come from checking and hitting the boards than from fighting," Scott said. "I don't know how many guys get knocked out per year. It's not that common.

"Fighting has a place, and I don't see it going anywhere."

Probert's widow, Dani, doesn't disagree with that assessment.

"In my heart of hearts, I don't believe fighting is what did this to Bob," she told The New York Times. "It was hockey -- all the checking and hits, things like that."

While Scott was more defensive about fighting in hockey, Jake Dowell saw some reason for concern after hearing about Probert.

"I think it's something that's always in the back of your head," Dowell said. "You really want to make sure you protect yourself. It's a huge deal, and sometimes it goes under the radar.

"Maybe you protect yourself a little bit more and maybe pick your spots a little bit more. You don't want to just set yourself up to take a handful of hits every single time you drop the gloves. You're going to get hit, but you try to limit them."

Both Dowell and Scott agreed that taking care after getting a concussion -- no matter the cause -- is the most important aspect of the issue.

"The thing about concussions is if you get one, you have to take care of it," Scott said. "The trouble is if you ignore it and go back on the ice and get that second and third one, that's when you get in trouble. It's up to everyone to take care of that first one."

"[Probert] probably got one and then got more," Dowell continued. "Back in the old days they didn't check for it."

Neither player thought this would lead to the end of fighting in hockey.

"I think it's definitely one of the things fans like about hockey," Scott said. "If I thought about it [concussions] while fighting, I'd probably just get beat up."

Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.