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“People like to tie one to another, the depression, the concussions while playing hockey,” said McPhee, listing trouble each player faced outside hockey. “I don’t think the job of being a policeman or a tough player had anything to do with those deaths.

“This stuff happens to construction workers, to accountants, to engineers, with depression and everything else. They’re not on the front page of the sports section.”

McPhee, unsurprisingly, said the NHL has set the pace among professional leagues in addressing concussions. But the risk of one hit plunging a player into the fog will always be a risk, no matter how many rules or pieces or equipment change.

“It’s never going to be completely safe — that’s part of the game,” McPhee said. “It is a physical game. These players are volunteers — nobody’s telling them they have to do it.”