Former players file concussion lawsuit against NHL

Big hits are have always been a part of hockey. Will the new lawsuit against the NHL eliminate big hits from the game? (Photo courtesy of the russianmachineneverbreaks.com)

Big hits are have always been a part of hockey. Will the new lawsuit against the NHL eliminate big hits from the game? (Photo courtesy of the russianmachineneverbreaks.com)

By Mike Larson, Nov. 26, 2013

We all knew it was going to happen sooner or later, and on Monday, a group of former National Hockey League players dropped the bomb.

Ten former players have filed a class action lawsuit, basically saying that the NHL didn’t do enough to protect them during their careers.

This wasn’t unexpected. After the National Football League agreed to pay $765 million to 4,500 former players who sued the league on the grounds that it didn’t protect them, everyone knew it was just a matter of time before hockey players got involved.

As of now, 10 players are involved, but it’s likely hundreds, if not thousands more will join it. According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, the players involved are Gary Leeman, Brad Aiken, Darren Banks, Curt Bennett, Richard Dunn, Warren Holmes, Bob Manno, Blair Stewart, Morris Titanic, and Rick Vaive.

So…it’s not exactly a star-studded list. At first glance, the only player who we even recognized was Darren Banks, and that’s only because he played a season for the Detroit Vipers of the now defunct International Hockey League. And we’re not even sure why Banks is suing. He only played 20 career NHL games, but whatever.

The suit, which is being handled jointly by a law firm in Laguna Hills, Calif., and another firm in Baltimore, alleges that the NHL should have done more to protect players from head injuries.

Here’s an excerpt of a release from the lawyers:

“The class action lawsuit, which is being leveled against the National Hockey League on behalf of former players, alleges that the NHL has failed to effectively respond to the head injuries sustained by players. The lawsuit contends that the NHL had behaved negligently and fraudulently in regards to the player sustained head trauma over the past decade.”

So here it is. The concussion discussion has officially made it into the hockey world. Sure, people talked about it before in terms of players like Eric Lindros and Paul Kariya, but it always seemed the conversations were about player toughness, not about safety.

But danger is the rule and injuries are an accepted rule in any contact sport, right? Is it fair for players, (at least one of the players involved in this lawsuit played without a helmet even though the league mandated that all incoming players had to protect their domes) to act like they didn’t know the sport was dangerous? Is it fair to blame the league?

I guess those are questions for the lawyers.

However, if what happened in the NFL case is any indication, this thing could get really expensive for the NHL.

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