Tags: nhl | fighting | concussions

NHL Fighting May Have Led to Concussions, League Believed

Image: NHL Fighting May Have Led to Concussions, League Believed
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 30 Mar 2016 05:59 AM

Newly disclosed emails between NHL officials show that fighting was privately discussed as possibly leading to concussions, long-term health problems like depression, and the frequent use of painkillers.

The New York Times reported Monday that the NHL is currently trying to fend off a class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by a number of former players, and that the emails could hurt its defense.

The players have argued collectively that the NHL did not warn them about potential short and long-term risk of concussions. The hockey league, though, has maintained that there is no link between the game and brain damage, including the type of the damage associated today with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head, according to the CTE Center at Boston University.

The brain degeneration is tied to memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and progressive dementia, noted the center.

The email exchange, which was unsealed in court Monday, between NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly, and former league discipline head Brendan Shanahan discussed possible links between fighting in hockey, concussions, depression, and drug use, reported CBC News.

Bettman, in responding to an email from Shanahan, who is now president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, said in one email, "An interesting question is whether being an NHL fighter does this to you (I don't believe so) or whether a certain type of person (who wouldn't otherwise be skilled enough to be an NHL player) gravitates to this job (I believe more likely)."

Daly responded, "I tend to think its [sic] a little bit of both. Fighting raises the incidence of head injuries/concussions, which raises the incidence of depression onset, which raises the incidence of personal tragedies."

Bettman said in turn, "I believe the fighting and possible concussions could aggravate a condition, but if you think about the tragedies there were probably certain predispositions. Again, though, the bigger issue is whether the [NHL Players' Association] would consent to in effect eliminate a certain type of 'role' and player. …"

While CTE has been more associated with football, athletes from other sports have announced that they will donate their brains after death so they could be examined for CTE. Dale Earnhardt Jr., the biggest name in NASCAR, announced Saturday on social media that he would donate his brain for research on concussions, reported Sports Illustrated.

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Newly disclosed emails between NHL officials show that fighting was privately discussed as possibly leading to concussions, long-term health problems like depression, and the frequent use of painkillers.
nhl, fighting, concussions
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2016-59-30
Wednesday, 30 Mar 2016 05:59 AM
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