28 Days to Go: Adam Deadmarsh and a Career Cut Short

What might have been...

Our countdown to the 2016-17 season continues, with 28 days to go...

As we enter the final month of waiting before the season begins, we’re getting to the point where every number brings the memory of a player. If the number is below 30, you, the loyal reader, probably know someone who wore it. And the #28 probably brings Jarret Stoll to mind; after all, he had a tremendously memorable series-winning goal and is remembered as a heart-and-soul player. But we've gotten to write a lot about him already, and given that he’s (amazingly) still working out with the Los Angeles Kings, we’ll probably talk about him again.

So let's rewind 15 years instead.

Adam Deadmarsh wore #28. He ALSO had a tremendously memorable series-winning goal. He is ALSO remembered as a heart-and-soul player. Deadmarsh has another unfortunate connection to the number 28, however: on the day Deadmarsh turned 28, he’d already played his last NHL game.

Deadmarsh was a pivotal part of one of my foundation moments as a Los Angeles Kings fan: LA’s first-round upset of the Detroit Red Wings, scoring the tying goal and the winning goal in Game 6 to knock out the #2 team in the NHL.

Deadmarsh played 31 games in the regular season and playoffs (so close to more #28 synergy) and had a couple more years to cement himself as a key member of the Kings for years to come. Instead, Deadmarsh got one full season, and twenty games of 2002-03, before the concussions came in. In those twenty games, he scored 13 goals. He’s inexorably tied to Jason Allison in the minds of Kings fans, and for good reason; Allison assisted on most of those goals, but he too was done with the Kings after less than a third of the 2002-03 season thanks to a concussion. And Allison, too, was a few months shy of his 28th birthday.

Allison was fortunate enough to return after the lockout for one season, but Deadmarsh never played another NHL game. He was honored by the Kings, who never really got to give him a proper sendoff, in 2006. Six years later, Deadmarsh was forced to step down from a coaching role with the Colorado Avalanche due to his post-concussion syndrome. As concussion protection has become even more of a hot-button issue in sports (Exhibit A: Cam Newton), Deadmarsh was an early cautionary tale of what kind of damage a concussion could do.

One more footnote about #28s: Jarret Stoll sustained a concussion in his final season with the Kings as well. Fortunately for him, he was able to return to action with the Rangers and Wild last season. It’s a shame Deadmarsh didn’t get that chance, but in the little time he had in LA, he certainly made an impact.