North Bay Battalion’s Zach Bratina is retiring, the 19-year-old announced on Twitter Tuesday.
After suffering another concussion, from which the young forward is still experiencing post-concussion symptoms, he has made the difficult decision to place his health above the game.
Bratina released the following statement on Twitter:
I am truly saddened to announce my retirement from the game of hockey. This game has been my entire life from the age of three. This has by far been the hardest decision of my life. It is so very difficult for me to leave the game that I love due to reoccurring concussion symptoms. I have been battling through symptoms for the past couple years and after meeting with a neurologist and talking with family, I had no choice but to hang up my skates and think about a different future. I am so thankful for the opportunities and memories that have come along with the game of hockey. I am also so thankful for all of the friends I have made over my 4 years in the OHL. The game of hockey may be taken away from me, but I will never stop loving it, and I stick around this game for the rest of my life.
This was clearly not an easy decision and should be applauded. A young player taking his health seriously and stepping away to prioritize his future while he’s clearly a talent is laudable.
Brattina is tied for third in goals in the OHL with 12 in 12 games. Ahead of him is only the Kitchner Rangers’ Ryan MacInnis with 13 and well back from the league’s scoring leader, Alex DeBrincat of the Eerie Otters. He had also been selected to represent the OHL in the current Canada-Russia series.
North Bay coach Stan Butler talked about the situation at the team’s site, saying, “It’s tough for Zach to make this decision based on the year that he’s had but, as we talked earlier about (Calvin) Gomes, I think you’ve got to make tough decisions that are the best for you in the long term. Zach’s gone home, and he’s going to finish off his university courses and then head off to university and become a fulltime student in the fall.”
He continued, “I don’t know if he suffered another concussion. He just feels that a lot of the symptoms haven’t gone away, and that’s concerning to him and his family and to us as an organization.”
We wish the best to the 19-year-old as he finds other avenues of continuing to be involved in the game.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.