An unfortunate incident on January 23rd has the hockey community mourning the death of Andrew Carroll, who reportedly committed suicide at an airport in Chicago this past week.
While never drafted, and never setting foot in the National Hockey League, Carroll had a solid hockey career. Assistant captain and captain for parts of four seasons with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he was the first player in the team's 7+ decade history to have some sort of captaincy role for that many years.
“The cause of death is complications of multiple blunt force head injuries due to jump from height,” according to the Chicago medical examiner's office. “The manner of death is suicide.”
Carroll moved around North America, with several stints in the ECHL and AHL. He played for four different teams across the two leagues in 2010-11.
His professional career spanned from 2008 to 2016, upon which he retired, and worked in his local community, helping with physical education classes, hockey camps and clinics.
His brain will be studied for potential disease. This has become an unfortunately common theme recently in hockey and sports in general. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a rare degenerative brain disease, occurs after repeated brain traumas, in other words, blunt force to the head. Players that get into a lot of fights, take hard hits to the head, or suffer other kind of blunt force to the head, are all at risk of suffering from this debilitating disease.
Enforcers such as Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard are examples of players who played a hard style and ultimately died way too early, suspected to have suffered from CTE. There's a lot of friction between the league and its players over recent years over how they haven't been properly protected or educated over the risks of playing hockey. Carroll may be another case of someone dying way too early for these reasons. He had multiple seasons over his career with over 100 penalty minutes, so it's safe to say that he was involved in a lot of rough stuff over his career.
Let's hope that the sport as a whole finds a way to mitigate these incidences from occurring any further.