The many depositions that have been heard in a lawsuit from more than 100 former players, who claim the National Hockey League had not done enough to educate its players to prevent head trauma, have revealed some shocking information that could get three professional clubs in trouble. As reported by The Athletic's Katie Strang, three teams violated concussions rules in the past years, and the court depositions have finally exposed them.
"Testimony from league officials and NHL team executives revealed that the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens were all found to be noncompliant in following certain NHL-mandated rules. And though these depositions reference penalties to both the Flames and the Canadiens, testimony indicates the Devils were neither fined nor disciplined for their infractions."
As Rick Westhead of TSN started investigating the many depositions made available in the recent weeks, it had been revealed that, as of July 2016, the NHL had fined the Canadiens, the Flames and a third unidentified team for breaching the league’s concussion protocol. The Devils, whom NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a deposition were not fined, failed to do mandatory preseason baseline neurological tests in 2007 and only did so after the season because of pressure from the league.
“I was never brought aware that we did not do it, other than the period of time that I did mention, and there was a reason, not an excuse, that that did not happen,” former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello states in his deposition, taken on Jan. 22, 2016.
The Devils have also been under a lot of heat since former player Mike Peluso came out with brutal statements about the consequences of the head trauma he suffered while playing in the NHL. Peluso once blamed the Devils for “throwing” him back onto the ice after he suffered a concussion and seizure during the 1993-94 season and that he felt “used and beaten.”
“I’ve come to the realization that I’m going to die young,” Peluso said.
While the teams were fined, no one revealed what the consequences precisely were for the teams who violated rules.
"An NHL spokesperson declined to comment when asked via email why both teams were fined and when. Calgary also declined to answer questions. (“We will not be making any comment relative to this subject matter based on ongoing litigation,” a team spokesperson said via email.) Montreal referred all questions to the NHL. (“The Club does not comment on league disciplinary decisions while litigation is ongoing. All requests will be referred to the NHL,” a team spokesperson said via email.)" concludes Strang.
When Strang published her piece and made it available on social media, Christopher Nowinski, the co-founder and executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, did not waste time to respond to the information by asking if "anyone was surprised" by the league or team's actions.
We can all remember the changes that occurred in the NFL when players started talking about the effects and horrible consequences of head trauma. While the NFL settled its own concussion lawsuit and in March 2016 conceded that a link exists between head hits and long-term brain disease, the NHL is fighting a proposed class-action lawsuit from its players and denying a link has been established between head hits in hockey and long-term cognitive problems.
For years, the NFL was believed to be the league of denial when it came to concussions. Now, there is no doubt that the NHL is the new league of denial...