December .5 .2013

Has the NHL done enough to protect the brains of former players?

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the NHL alleging that the league has not done enough to protect players from concussions. The lawsuit was filed last week in Washington and now includes over 200 former players.

The issue of concealment is at the centre of the lawsuit. As one excerpt reads: "The NHL's active and purposeful concealment of the severe risks of brain injuries exposed players to unnecessary dangers they could have avoided had the NHL provided them with truthful and accurate information and taken appropriate action to prevent needless harm."

News of the lawsuit against the NHL comes only three months after the NFL agreed to pay $765M to former players now suffering from dementia and other concussion-related health problems. By settling, the NFL did not have to admit any wrongdoing.

Sports law expert Eric Macramalla says it must be proved in court that the NHL chose not to share information about the long-term neurological impacts of repeated head shots. Without evidence, "the case will ultimately fail," says Macramalla.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged the seriousness of the issue but admits no wrongdoing. "We are completely satisfied with the responsible manner in which the League and the Player's Association have managed Player safety over time. We intend to defend the case vigorously."

News of the concussion lawsuit comes just days before the NHL announced a $5.2B deal with Rogers Communications, giving the media mogul all broadcast and multimedia rights in Canada. It's the largest deal of its kind in the NHL's history and will cover 12 seasons, beginning in 2014/15.

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Nicholas Tsoi

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