NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, right, speaks at a news conference before the NHL Awards show Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Las Vegas. At left is Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. The NHL is officially exploring expansion. The league is opening a formal expansion review process to consider adding new franchises to its 30-team league, Bettman announced Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Las Vegas, Seattle and Quebec City are the markets that have expressed the most serious interest. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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NHL loses bid to dismiss concussion suit

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) A federal judge in Minnesota has denied the NHL’s latest attempt to throw out a class-action lawsuit by former players filed over head injuries.

The league had argued that the suit should be tossed because the issues raised by the former players were covered under the collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson wrote in a 47-page opinion that the CBA does not pre-empt legal action, in part because the players are retired and no longer subject to the CBA.

Dan LaCouture, Michael Peluso, Gary Leeman, Bernie Nicholls, David Christian and Reed Larson represent former players who say the NHL did not sufficiently protect or inform the players of the dangers when it comes to head injuries they suffered when they played.

Fleury still experiencing concussion symptoms, ‘one of the toughest things I’ve been through’

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) blocks a shot during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The Penguins more than survived Marc-Andre Fleury‘s absence in their opening-round playoff win against the Rangers, as Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff combined to beat the Blueshirts in five games.

In the second round, though — against the top-seeded Capitals — it’s safe to assume Pittsburgh wants Fleury back in the mix.

Problem is, Fleury’s not there yet. He’s still dealing with concussion symptoms.

“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve been through,” Fleury said after Monday’s optional workout, per the Post-Gazette. “Some good days, when you think you’re back, and some bad days, when you think it’s never going to get fixed.”

Fleury hasn’t played since Mar. 31, when he suffered the concussion against Nashville. He’s since missed 10 games — five regular-season, five playoff — and while the second round start date has yet to be determined, Fleury has to be considered questionable at this point.

Thankfully for the Pens, Murray has been up to the challenge thus far.

After missing the first two games of the Rangers series with an upper-body ailment, the 21-year-old ripped off three straight wins, posting a .955 save percentage and a 31-save shutout in Game 4.

“He’s got a quiet confidence about him that I think really helps him deal with the ebbs and flows,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said of Murray, per NHL.com. “For a young guy, he’s mature beyond his years.

“I also think he’s a guy that reads the play extremely well and because of that, positionally, he’s a very sound guy.”

Caps rule out Orpik again, Trotz won’t answer concussion questions

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Brooks Orpik will miss his second straight game on Friday night, still feeling the effects of a heavy Ryan White hit from Game 3.

Orpik’s head coach, Barry Trotz, isn’t saying anything about the nature of the injury.

Orpik, who has a history of concussions, appeared dazed after his head hit the glass on the White hit, and needed help leaving the ice.

Taylor Chorney drew in for Game 4 — Washington’s first loss of the playoffs — and, at the time, the club did say that Orpik was “doing better.”

A valuable penalty killer and one of the team’s alternate captains, Orpik had logged pretty significant minutes during the opening two games of the series — 21:56 in Game 1, 21:33 in Game 2.

Ennis has ‘great day’ at Sabres practice, but admits concussion scared him

Tyler Ennis
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It’s a scary thing to have a concussion — especially these days with all we’ve learned about the devastating long-term effects that concussions can have.

Sabres forward Tyler Ennis can tell you all about the fear. He sustained a concussion Dec. 30 on a hit by Alex Ovechkin.

“It’s a really difficult thing,” Ennis told the Buffalo News today after practicing with his Sabres teammates for the first time in months.

“I went through a lot of different emotions, a lot of ups and downs, so yeah, there’s really bad days. There’s days where you feel great and there’s days where it’s tough. To say I wasn’t scared at some point would be probably a lie, but I feel so good right now. I feel great. I feel 100 percent.”

Ennis hasn’t been cleared for contact, and he reportedly won’t play in the Sabres’ final two games of the season.

But today?

“Today was a great day,” he said.

Gudbranson sent back to Florida amid concussion concern

Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) gets up from the ice after being pushed in the second period during a preseason NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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A rough stretch here for defensemen on playoff-bound teams.

You can add Florida’s Erik Gudbranson to a list that, after last night’s action, now includes the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh and the Isles’ Calvin de Haan — after taking a high hit from Toronto’s Colin Greening on Monday, the Panthers sent Gudbranson back to Florida on Tuesday for further evaluation.

Gudbranson averages over 20 minutes a night and, at 6-foot-5, 216 pounds, is Florida’s most physically imposing defenseman. He leads the club’s blueliners in hits, with 150, and is fourth on the team in fighting majors.

He’s also the second Panthers d-man to be sidelined with concussion issues.

Captain Willie Mitchell hasn’t played since mid-January while dealing with post-concussion symptoms, and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to return to the club this season.

Related: Panthers’ Mitchell believes the NHL is ‘slipping’ on player safety