First, it was the NFL. Now, the NHL is facing a concussion-related lawsuit filed by its former players.
More precisely, 10 players are involved — Gary Leeman, Bradley Aitken, Darren Banks, Curt Bennett, Richard Dunn, Warren Holmes, Robert Manno, Blair James Stewart, Morris Titanic and Rick Vaive.
ESPN adds more details about the lawsuit:
“The lawsuit seeks damages and court-approved, NHL-sponsored medical monitoring for the players’ brain trauma and/or injuries, which they blame on their NHL careers. It was filed in federal court on in Washington on behalf of players who retired on or before February 14 of this year and have suffered such injuries.”
In addition, here is an excerpt from the press release from the law firm which represents the former NHL players:
“In 2004 the NHL introduced a series of updates to the rule-set to encourage a faster, more exciting, and ultimately more marketable product. As a result, the number of violent in-game collisions and occurrence of head trauma have increased. When coupled with the NHL’s refusal to protect players by banning full-body checking or penalizing on-ice fist fights, the league has created a dangerous atmosphere for players.
“The complaint alleges that the NHL either ignores or consistently lags behind other hockey leagues in adopting protections for players in accordance with current medical knowlege of concussions. Instead, the NHL continues to glorify and empower players known as ‘enforcers’ — players with the singular intention of injuring the opposing team.
“There are a number of current and former players who recognize the current culture that the NHL has been fostering. Rick Vaive, one of the former players and plaintiff in the lawsuit states,’many of the former NHL players are suffering from debilitating head injuries from their time in the league. Hopefully this lawsuit will shine a light on the problem and the players can get the help they deserve.”
The lawsuit also stresses a brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been prevalent among deceased players, including Reggie Fleming, Rick Martin, Bob Probert and Derek Boogard.
For its part, the NHL released its own statement regarding the lawsuit on Nov. 25 by way of Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly:
“We are aware of the class-action lawsuit filed today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of a group of former NHL players. While the subject matter is very serious, we are completely satisfied with the responsible manner in which the League and the Players’ Association have managed Player safety over time, including with respect to head injuries and concussions.
“We intend to defend the case vigorously and have no further comment at this time.”
The National Football League (NFL) reached a $765 million settlement three months ago “over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players, agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.”
NHL fans can only hope the brewing issue between the two sides will have a happier ending.