ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) There is no question that professional hockey leaves players battered and bruised.
What is uncertain is whether the concussions resulting from fights and heavy body checks result in disabling and life altering brain injuries?
Some 150 former players have filed suit against the National Hockey League, claiming that the league thrived on the violence — but did little to warn players of the long-term effects.
“We just want to help the guys who need medical monitoring or medical help,” said Reed Larson, a retired NHL star and Minnesota native.
Larson played 14 NHL seasons and says he suffered at least four concussions over his career.
He is among the retired players demanding medical monitoring of brain injury symptoms, and eventually compensation for losses and future medical costs.
“God forbid nobody wants it, and no amount of money will help if you get over it,” Larson said. “Families have been ruined, players ruined and players were promoted, the violence was promoted.”
The league is fighting plaintiffs demand to consider all claims in a single class action lawsuit. Plaintiff’s attorneys contend that hearing cases individually would make it impossible to force the league to monitor players for brain disease.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has gone so far as to call the player’s lawsuit, “Without merit.” League attorneys did not want to appear on camera to answer questions about the case.
Plaintiff’s lawyers say the evidence linking concussions with long-term brain disease is clear. They told Federal Judge Susan Richard Nelson that certifying the lawsuit a class action is the “best and most efficient way to adjudicate the case.”