Former Bruins forward Dan LaCouture is facing assault charges after an incident with a woman that took place on Cape Cod last weekend.
LaCouture, 39 -- a native of Hyannis -- pleaded not guilty this week to charges that he struck a woman in the collarbone at a Centerville home on Saturday. He is facing one count of assault and battery and two counts of vandalizing property stemming from the incident.
According to a report in the Cape Cod Daily News, both passenger windows were smashed on a GM Yukon when police arrived at the scene around 6 p.m. on Saturday night. LaCouture -- a former Boston University standout who skated for the Oilers, Bruins, Penguins, Rangers, Devils and Hurricanes during his 337-game NHL career -- was found sitting in the backyard with the female homeowner, who appeared upset with him.
LaCouture is one of the lead plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the NHL, which six retired players filed on behalf of all former and current players charging the league with exploiting them through the “sophisticated use of extreme violence” to make money without warning them, and thereby protecting them, from the risks of head injuries and concussion, according to paperwork filed with the lawsuit in Minnesota.
“From what I know and learned in the past few years, they’ve known for a decade or two as far as what the long term effects could be for concussions,” LaCouture told Toucher and Rich during a 2015 interview about his involvement in the lawsuit against the NHL. “Coming into [the NHL in] 1997, it was made to seem to us as players from coaches and management that a head injury was like a shoulder or knee injury at the time. Obviously, that is not the case today.
“There is so much more information out there and everybody is more aware of what can happen from concussions. Just look at the guys who’ve lost their lives over the past years. These aren’t guys who happen to take their own lives or take pills or anything just because they were feeling fine. They obviously had problems with concussions and the effects afterwards.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound LaCouture was involved in 52 game fights and had close to 20 concussions during his hockey career, according to federal court documents. The documentsalso described his day-to-day life with what sounds like post-concussion syndrome: “the fact that Mr. LaCouture currently suffers on a daily basis from headaches, irritability, sensitivity to light, change of personality, sleeping problems and severe depression . . . Mr. LaCouture has symptoms consistent with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy),” a degenerative brain disease increasingly found in professional athletes with a history of concussive hits across a wide array of sports.
LaCouture is due to appear again in Barnstable Court on July 15 for a pretrial hearing.