NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has repeatedly denied the link between brain injuries and CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head trauma.
“The science regarding C.T.E., including on the asserted ‘link’ to concussions that you reference, remains nascent, particularly with respect to what causes C.T.E. and whether it can be diagnosed by specific clinical symptoms,” Bettman wrote in response to questioning from a U.S. senator back in 2016. “The relationship between concussions and the asserted clinical symptoms of C.T.E. remains unknown.”
As recently as 2019, Bettman continued this denial and dismissed the links between head trauma suffered in hockey and CTE. Bettman’s stance on brain injuries has continued to be a concern among past players, including former NHL defenseman Chris Therien who told Yahoo Sports in 2022 that “Gary Bettman denies that concussions are almost real,”
It’s a clear contradiction to the NHL’s recent stance, while arguing Steve Montador, a 14-year NHL veteran with six NHL clubs, knew the risks of CTE and brain injuries, which eventually played a role in his death. Montador’s father is currently embattled in a wrongful death lawsuit in an Illinois state court against the NHL related to the passing of his son in 2015.
“During his life, Montador struggled with substance abuse, depression, anxiety, insomnia and strained/abusive personal relationships,” the NHL wrote in new court filings this week. “Despite being repeatedly made aware of and informed about potential long-term risks of head injuries, including CTE, by numerous individuals as detailed above, Montador continued to play in the NHL for years.”
The league added:
“Montador was told by multiple specialists that he should stop playing hockey due to his concussion history but ignored these medical professionals and continued his career, suffering additional head injuries,” the NHL continued. “Montador also expressly told Blackhawks’ medical personnel that he assumed the risk of continuing to play hockey at the professional level.”
While mentioning their league, and the continuation of Montador’s injury struggles, the NHL also asserted that “None of these injuries can possibly be attributed to his play in the NHL.” The league asserts Montador, who fought 69 times in his NHL career, and amassed 807 penalty minutes in 571 games, suffered his brain injuries playing in other…