Former NHL players fire back at League’s concussion claims

Former NHL players fire back at League’s concussion claims

The NHL is facing a lawsuit from about 40 former players about its concussion policy and protocols.

The players feel the League didn’t do enough to educate and protect them; the League fired back in a filing in a Minnesota court that the players should have put “two and two together” about the inherent dangers of playing a sport in which the head is targeted by pucks, sticks, hits and fists.

This didn’t really go over well with the players suing the league, according to TSN.

Rick Westhead reports that the ex-players have responded with a filing of their own that ridicules the idea that the onus was on them to learn about head trauma; that there was “no need to go find it because they relied on the NHL for information about player health and safety."


"Whether players could have accessed information in the public sphere is a red herring," the players say in court filings. "By representing that the NHL was the caretaker of player safety and was responsible for researching concussions... the NHL was telling players not to look for or believe what the NHL now says the players should have researched and understood."

The players, whose claims have not been proven, allege that the NHL did not do enough to protect them from head injuries before it created a committee to study head trauma in 1997. Even after that, the players charge the committee's findings were not adequately shared with players.

"For decades, NHL players who sustained in-game concussions or who lost consciousness were simply propped up, given smelling salts, and quickly returned to game-action," the players allege.

The last point could be the trickiest; and absent some smoking gun like the NFL had, it’s at the heart of this lawsuit: Hockey culture, and whether players and teams mutually and willingly participate in it.

And by that we mean: How many times – even in today’s game, with full knowledge of the dangers of head trauma – do players ignore their own wellbeing for the sake of completion, comrades or contracts?