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Bob Probert Had Brain Disease

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BOSTON — NHL enforcer Bob Probert had degenerative brain disease when he died last year, Boston University researchers said.

The Sports Legacy Institute said Thursday that analysis of Probert’s donated brain revealed that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Probert died last July of heart failure at age 45. He played 16 seasons in the NHL, and his 3,300 penalty minutes rank fifth on the league’s career list.

Probert is the second hockey player from the program at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy to be diagnosed with the disease after death. Reggie Fleming, a 1960s enforcer who played before helmets became mandatory, also had CTE.

The findings were first reported by The New York Times and The Globe and Mail in Toronto on Wednesday night.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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