Andre Deveaux as a member of the New York Rangers in November of 2011. (Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Former NHLer Andre Deveaux made headlines when he viciously attacked an opponent in Sweden, but now says the attack was the result of a combination of a severe concussion he suffered that was misdiagnosed by team doctors and his fear for his personal safety after being threatened by the opposition.
Even though former minor league enforcer Andre Deveaux has hired a Toronto PR firm to handle his case and says he’s been in and out of emergency rooms suffering from the after effects of a severe concussion, we’re still no closer to determining whether Deveaux was suffering from impaired judgment or was intent on taking the law in his own hands to protect himself when he viciously attacked an opponent in a game in Sweden that went viral on social media in March.
That’s largely because Deveaux was so ambiguous about it Friday morning when he spoke about the incident in a Toronto news conference. On the one hand, he went to great pains to accuse his Rogle team of ignoring/misdiagnosing the fact he had a concussion he suffered when he was hit from behind by Per Helmersson of Vasteras in the previous game, an injury that three doctors in Canada have since confirmed he has. On the other hand, he claims to have been fully aware of his actions, saying he attacked Helmersson prior to the next game because he was concerned for his own safety.
“I’m out there with a serious injury and guys (on the Vasteras team) are out there telling me they’re going to do it again,” Deveaux said. “At some point, my safety has to become a priority. I’ve been around the block and I know the difference between chirping and threatening. What’s the alternative? It starts out where guys are saying, ‘Oh look who’s up. Look who’s back.’ And then it goes from that to every time I go by the red line, ‘Maybe today you’re going to go off on a stretcher? You won’t see me coming either.’ What’s the alternative? Do I wait for that and hope it doesn’t happen? I have a family. I’m in a foreign country and no one seems to care.
“You don’t know what it’s like when no one has your interests in mind,” Deveaux continued. “Five years down the road, I don’t want to be rolling around in a wheelchair regretting that I should have done something.”
Deveaux claims he was never diagnosed with a concussion by Rogle doctors and instead was treated for whiplash and a sore jaw. And while the Rogle doctors initially said they didn’t believe Deveaux had a concussion, the chairman of the Swedish Ice Hockey Association’s disciplinary committee says Deveaux told the committee after the incident that he hid the fact from Rogle doctors that he had been knocked unconscious after the Helmersson hit because he wanted to keep playing and help Rogle win the Allsvensken and gain entry into the Swedish Elite League next season. “He told us that he deliberately misled his team and that he was ready to go,” said Alexander Ramsey, the chairman of the disciplinary committee. “He said he wanted to secure a contract for the following season and him getting a new contract was dependent on (Rogle gaining entry into the Elite League).”
The incident occurred in the Allsvensken playoff final between Deveaux’s Rogle team and Vasteras. In Game 3 of the championship series, Deveaux was hit from behind by Helmersson and had to leave the game:
Prior to Game 4, Deveaux attacked Helmersson, which resulted in his suspension and the possibility of criminal charges for assault being filed:
Deveaux was suspended by the Swedish Ice Hockey Association until February, 2016. It’s unclear whether other federations would uphold the ban. Deveaux was also arrested by local police in absentia for assault, but has hired one of Sweden’s most high-profile defense attorneys and has instructed him to cooperate with the authorities. “The prosecutor has not taken me up on the offer,” Deveaux said.
Deveaux said he has been to emergency rooms three times since he has returned to Canada, including once after he says he collapsed at his brother’s home and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance. All three doctors, plus a neurologist, told him he was suffering from a serious concussion. Toronto-based neurologist, Dr. Daniel Chet-Ti Wong, was quoted in a news release confirming Deveaux’s injury. “Andre most definitely suffered a concussion,” Wong says in the release. “He is currently experiencing severe post-concussion symptoms that will take time and therapy to heal.”
Deveaux called the news conference to explain his side of the events, saying that people here have received partial reports from a “biased source” and that people don’t have the facts. “For players like me, who play with an edge, people tend to believe the worst,” he said.
He also leveled some very serious accusations at the Swedish Ice Hockey Association, saying that it blamed him for his injuries. “The Swedish Ice Hockey Association has alleged that I exaggerated my injuries,” said Deveaux, who was flanked by his wife, Anya Nordstrom, throughout the news conference. “Basically, they have accused me of giving myself a concussion, which is outrageous.”
Ramsey, meanwhile, said one of the referees working the game in which Deveaux attacked Deveaux made that claim, but at no time has the Swedish Federation ever questioned the extent of Deveaux’s injury.