NHL Players Lawsuit Over Concussions Opens a Can of Worms

Ten former NHL hockey players recently filed class-action lawsuit against the National Hockey League (NHL) claiming that the league has not done enough to protect its players from concussions and head injuries. The lawsuit seeks damages for the players as well as court certified medical attention (sponsored by the NHL) to monitor the players injuries that resulted from their concussions. This event comes just 3 months after the NFL came to a $765 million settlement which involved hundreds of players and concussions. The fact that these two lawsuits occurred so closely together makes me question whether those players of the NHL who filed, had planned on doing so prior to the NFL lawsuit?

It’s interesting that there was only 10 NHL players to come forward for the lawsuit as opposed to the NFL where hundreds were involved. Does that mean that more players from the NHL will come forward in the near future? I also think that the fact that two of the major North American professional sport leagues having lawsuits regarding concussions also opens the door for the other professional sport leagues and not just those throughout North America. If the NHL players prove successful, I believe that it will result in several lawsuits in the near future regarding concussions and injuries related to them. One major aspect that worries me about these lawsuits is what if other athletes attempt to take advantage of this situation? Concussions are a very conspicuous injury to treat and has varying side effects for example only a player who was injured by a concussion would know if he/she had constant headaches after the concussion for a long period of time.

These lawsuits also raise the question of how this will affect professional sport leagues in the future? Leagues will have to take more measures to protect themselves from lawsuits that could reach extremely high amounts (as seen in the NFL settlement). Some of those measures, whether they are waivers/consent forms or even more education for players prior to entering the leagues, may affect the images of the leagues or possibly deter athletes from playing there. Ultimately, these lawsuits have opened a whole can of worms for the NHL and other leagues as they will have to act quickly to prevent anything like this from happening in the future.




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3 Responses to NHL Players Lawsuit Over Concussions Opens a Can of Worms

  1. chase6464 says:

    Great topic to blog about! In my opinion I think that this is a direct result of the NFL settlement 3 months prior which had compensated hundreds of players due to the damages suffered throughout their career. When looking at the list of the 10 players it is not hard to notice that most happen to be guys that we (or at least myself) have never heard of and could be looking for a quick and easy paycheque. As i am not familiar with most of them, i am not entitled to judge whether or not they have suffered post career damages due to injuries that the NHL could have prevented. What i can comment on is the fact that concussions only just started breaking the surface about a decade ago with players like Lindros, Primeau, Stevens, etc, and more recently, Savard, Crosby, and Reimer. The players indicating that the NHL did not do enough to prevent head injuries played in an era where concussions in professional sport were not too fond of and diagnosis specialists weren’t educated enough on the side effects as well as the long term effects. Do i agree that there should have been more equipment, rules, regulations, etc to prevent head injuries in the past? Yah sure, but regardless there was next to nothing the NHL could have done during the time when concussions were unknown of with regards to affecting players post career. I think this could be compared to a situation where goalies who played pre 1960’s filing a lawsuit against the NHL for head injuries also because it wasn’t regulated to wear a mask between the pipes. Nuts right…?

  2. cgates14 says:

    Interesting topic, and one that is only going to get more attention as it moves forward. As stated in your post, the NFL went through very similar litigation with a number of their former players over the same issue. Just like the NFL lawsuit, the one brought against the NHL now has increased to 200 former players. The lawsuit is likely to boil down to whether or not the NHL actually hid the information about concussions being dangerous from the players. If not, it is conceivable that the judge will find that the players should have known that taking multiple hits to the head is bad for your brain. It will also be interesting to monitor whether the NHL tries to settle with the players, just like the NFL did.

  3. mb11oo says:

    I agree that this lawsuit has been brought about as a direct result of the recent lawsuit that settled between the NFL and its former players. I too noticed the list of players coming forward so far is not exactly a who’s who of former NHL stars. I think their motives can be questioned to say the very least. One of the few recognizable players Rick Vaive has withdrawn his name from the court action. The task before the players is not to prove that playing in the NHL caused their concussion or any other medical or psychological condition, but that the NHL had explicit knowledge of the risks and hid it from players. Unlike the NFL, where the league knew for quite some time that there game brought on serious medical side effects; in fact they celebrated the fact as some kind of a badge of honour on NFL films. This was just not the case in the NHL. Since the negative consequences of concussions have been somewhat better understood, the NHL has implemented strict rules and protocols surrounding concussions. Sports are inherently a risky endeavour. If those behind this lawsuit are successful, where would it end? Could former high school athletes sue their former schools over a concussion?

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