The Erie Otters made major headlines on Friday when they announced that defenseman Luke Beamish was forced to retire from the OHL and from playing hockey because of health reasons and risk associated with playing hockey.
Given what Beamish has endured over the last couple of seasons leading to this moment, you can’t help but feel for him. But at the end of the day, Beamish and the Otters have made the correct decision and I wish more players and teams would do this in a similar situation.
We outlined Beamish’s return to the Otters in a story we wrote in September. He missed the last 45 games of the 2018-19 season due to concussion-like symptoms. He admitted that he had a couple of very bad months in trying to get better. But he knew he’d make it back.
Beamish spent the summer changing his workout and diet in order to be ready for the season. He put in the work and was deemed 100% for the 2019-20 season. He played the first 13 games of the season seemingly fine.
But then all of a sudden, the concussion-like symptoms returned. This time, after some medical tests were performed, it was determined that retirement was the best decision.
Beamish & Otters’ Thoughts
Beamish shared his thoughts about the Otters and his decision to retire. “The years I was in Erie was a great experience. Everyone was so helpful, from the staff, coaches, management, ownership, teammates, fans and billets. Unfortunately, I had to stop playing due to injury problems and the safest thing to do would be to walk away from the game. This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make, but I just wish the team and the organization great success, and I’ll miss everyone. Thank you all.”
Otters’ general manager Dave Brown then shared his thoughts on the situation. “This has been an emotional time for Luke, and we are thankful for Luke’s contributions to the Otters organization both on and off the ice. He is a great teammate and was always supportive of the group around him. This is truly unfortunate news for Luke and our team, but we fully support him and his decision, and admire his mature approach. We will be there to support him as he takes the next step in his life. We wish him the utmost success in his future endeavors.”
The Right Call Was Made
Given the very difficult circumstances involved, both Beamish and the Otters handled this as well as anyone could ask for. Maturity, class and common sense all are on full display in an otherwise ugly situation. The hockey world can definitely learn something from this.
The Otters especially under Brown have always been about making sure a player is 100% before returning. If there was any sort of concern, they would side with caution and deal with the situation head on.
It’s the team’s job to be looking out for the best interest of the player in all circumstances, even if it means not being able to play anymore. Beamish has the rest of his life ahead of him yet. Thanks to the Otters’ approach, Beamish still has a lot to look forward to and can pursue opportunities without further risking his health because of hockey.
Now we need to see more of these kind of stories in hockey. There are many who struggle with similar circumstances, yet they try to play through it for a variety of reasons. There is nothing more important for a player than their health. It’s encouraging to see a team and a player agree that this is the best course of action. From start to finish, this was handled correctly.
We at the Hockey Writers wish nothing but the very best for Beamish in all of his future endeavors.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.