Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Noah Welch will donate his brain to a study of concussion effects

BRANDON — Noah Welch insisted this story is true.

A former Panthers teammate, hearing Welch will donate his brain to medical research, said, seriously, "Wow, how long does that put you out for?"

"He thought maybe I would just give it for a couple of days and get it back," Welch said, laughing. "I told him I would never reveal his name, but that was a direct quote."

It's kind of difficult to get back to talkin' hockey after something like that comes out, so suffice it to say the Lightning defenseman, acquired Wednesday from Florida in the Steve Eminger trade, considers his cross-state move as a breath of fresh air.

Welch, 26, was scratched for 36 games with the Panthers, averaged 6:38 of ice time in 23 in which he played and admittedly didn't talk much with coach Peter DeBoer, who, Welch said, apparently did not like his game.

"I did a lot of watching this year, a lot of bag skating, a lot of grunt work," Welch said Thursday at the Ice Sports Forum. "It's going to be nice to just go out and play hockey."

That happens tonight against the Blues at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.

First, though, we must hear about donating his brain, after death, to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University's School of Medicine, which is studying the long-term effects of concussions.

Welch is one of 95 who have signed up to donate, said Chris Nowinski, president of the Sports Legacy Institute, a nonprofit organization collaborating with the study. About half, he said, are former pro, college or high school athletes.

Welch is the only active NHL player involved. Nowinski said four retired players have pledged.

"As far as my decision to do it, I'm an organ donor, so it didn't take much thought," Welch said. "The biggest thing is that it's going to help athletes play more."

How about your family?

"My brother, he laughed about it," Welch said. "He thought it was pretty cool. My uncle cracked jokes. My mother cried. She's pretty emotional. She just hopes she doesn't have to be there to see that."

Nowinski put the bug in Welch's ear when the fellow Harvard alums sat next to one another at a dinner function.

"I don't think anyone grasped the concussion issue as quickly as Noah," Nowinski said. "He wanted to do it. He thought it was important."

And though Welch said he has had only one concussion, in February 2007 with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Ann McKee, associate professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University, said any brain of an athlete from an impact sport is valuable because "there is so little known about repetitive trauma."

As for Welch's decision to donate, she said, "It shows a level of altruism, a sense of duty to other athletes."

"That's how the guy is," said Lightning defenseman Cory Murphy, Welch's former Panthers teammate, though not the one from the beginning of this story. "He's an intelligent guy and saw an opportunity to really help people who play the game."

With the Lightning, Welch has an opportunity to help himself.

DOWNIE SUSPENSION APPEALED: The Lightning's AHL affiliate in Norfolk appealed the 20-game suspension the league gave Steve Downie on Thursday for deliberately striking an official in the shin with a stick in a Saturday game against Hershey. Downie's agent, Rick Curran said — and the league confirmed — his client was not interviewed during the investigation. "He got no opportunity to defend himself." Jim Mill, AHL vice president of hockey operations, said video of the incident was "clear-cut." Downie stays on indefinite suspension during the appeal. … Forward Brandon Segal was sent to Norfolk. … Left wing Gary Roberts, 42, who cleared waivers Wednesday, was not at practice, and his name was off his locker stall. Is the 21-year veteran ready to retire?

New Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Noah Welch will donate his brain to a study of concussion effects 03/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. HomeTeam 100: Players 11-20


     Rising senior DE/TE Judge Culpepper (right) tackles OL Bryce Love during practice at Plant High School in Tampa, on Tuesday May 2, 2017.
  2. Rays get relief help, acquire LHP Dan Jennings from White Sox


    The Rays got the relief help they were looking for, acquiring LHP Dan Jennings from the White Sox for prospect 1B Casey Gillaspie.

    Jennings, 30, is 3-1, 3.45 in 48 games this season for the White Sox, and is tough on lefty hitters, holding them a .169 average and .497 OPS. He was better last season, posting a …

    Dan Jennings is 3-1, 3.45 in 48 games this season for the White Sox.
  3. Director: Jameis Winston is most charismatic 'Hard Knocks' QB


    TAMPA — The Bucs' Hard Knocks life has already begun. HBO and NFL Films' behind-the-scenes documentary series of an NFL training camp — this season featuring the Bucs — started filming even before training camp began. That means Matt Dissinger, the show's director, is already the hardest working …

    Jameis Winston (3) lifts a victorious arm after the Bucs beat the San Francisco 49ers in October at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times ]
  4. What will it take for Quinton Flowers to strike a Heisman pose?


    Sports Illustrated's  Bruce Feldman on Quinton Flowers Heisman chances: "If they run the table - which is very possible - and he runs for 1,500 yards, maybe, but I still don't know. I just don't know that he's going to have the visibility in (the AAC)."  (Octavio Jones, Times)
  5. Divers search lake for NFL star Julio Jones' $100,000-plus earring


    GAINESVILLE, Ga. — An NFL star's diamond earring valued at more than $100,000 is now presumed lost on the murky bottom of a Georgia lake.

    Julio Jones' diamond earring valued at more than $100,000 is now presumed lost on the murky bottom of a Georgia lake. WXIA-TV reported Tuesday that Jones lost it when he hit a boat wake and took a spill while jet skiing in Lake Lanier, about 50 miles outside Atlanta. [AP photo]