Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks

Montador’s lawyer calls Bettman’s comments on concussions and CTE ‘shocking’


The lawyer representing the family of the late Steve Montador called commissioner Gary Bettman’s comments on the link between concussions and CTE shocking.

Montador, who appeared in 571 NHL games with the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks, died on Feb. 15. An autopsy revealed he suffered from CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).

“From a medical and scientific standpoint,” Bettman said on Thursday about a possible link between concussions and CTE, “there is no evidence yet that one leads to the other.”

William Gibbs of the Chicago-based law firm, who plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of the Montador family against the NHL, was surprised at the comments.

“I presumed that he must have been misquoted because it made no sense to me,” Gibbs told The Chicago Tribune. “I guess there has been no medical or scientific study saying that if you have 15 shots of whiskey and drive the wrong way down an interstate highway you’re going to hurt someone. Do we need such a study to know it’s dangerous? Mr. Bettman seems to be saying that there is no link between repetitive head trauma sustained during a professional hockey career and later in life issues, which is shocking in this day and age.”

According to researchers at Boston University, 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.

Montador was found dead in his Mississauga, Ontario, home at age 35. Over parts of 10 seasons Montador had 65 regular season fights.

“Certainly, we believe very strongly that there is a lot of evidence regarding that correlation and that connection,” Gibbs said. “The only way that one can acquire CTE — I’m no scientist — but I’ve read, is through repetitive head trauma. When we know that someone has been involved in a sport professionally for a decade that encourages fighting, which certainly exposes the brain to trauma, and through the natural course of a game has certainly a propensity to cause trauma to the head, it doesn’t take a genius to add that all together and say professional hockey in Steve Montador’s case caused his CTE.”

The NHLPA declined to comment directly to the Tribune on CTE, but revealed plans to launch an athlete development program next season in partnership with the NHL.

Bettman refutes link between concussions and CTE

Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators - Game Six

Concussions and the salary cap are common topics for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, yet he provided some interesting comments about both on Thursday.

Following the death of former defenseman Steve Montador and looming litigation regarding concussions, Bettman refuted the connection some have made between concussions and CTE, as the Associated Press reports.

“From a medical and scientific standpoint,” Bettman said about a possible link between concussions and CTE, “there is no evidence yet that one leads to the other.”

Interesting. Chris Nowinski – the co-founder of the Boston University CTE Center and someone who is “fighting concussions every day – seemed to disagree with Bettman’s observations.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the definition of CTE, according to Nowinsky’s CTE Center:

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (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. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau.  These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement.  The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.

Which side is right? Perhaps time will tell on that matter.

One thing we’ll know for sure far sooner is whether or not Bettman’s salary cap estimates prove accurate for the 2015-16 season. He once again predicted that the ceiling with rise to about $71 million, according to the AP.

NHL GMs can be excused for being a little concerned up until the moment that figure is confirmed, though.

Letang (concussion), Dupuis (blood clots) to be ‘retested’ over next two weeks

Pittsburgh Penguins v Anaheim Ducks

The next 14 days will be fairly important ones for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Defenseman Kris Letang and forward Pascal Dupuis — who were shut down this season due to a concussion and blood clots, respectively — are set to undergo medical tests over the next two weeks in the hopes of clearing up their playing futures.

“We will hopefully know something then,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said, per the Tribune-Review. “[We’re] keeping our fingers crossed.”

Dupuis, 36, was shut down in mid-November with a blood clot in his lung. While he said he feels he can return to action, he did acknowledge the decision was “not up to me,” and that a series of medical tests would be required before he could be cleared.

A regular linemate of Sidney Crosby, Dupuis is heading into the third of a four-year, $15 million deal that carries an average annual cap hit of $3.75M.

As for Letang, he was shut down in early April after suffering his fourth concussion in three years on this hit from Arizona captain Shane Doan:

The 28-year-old also suffered a stroke last season — one that, remarkably, only sidelined him for 10 weeks — yet insists that he’ll be ready to go for training camp in the fall.

More, from the Tribune-Review:

[Letang] hasn’t considered having his career cut short by head injuries.

“No concern,” he said. “I’m on my way to coming back. I’m just going through the protocol. I’ll be back on the ice. I missed only a bunch of games once, when I got (a concussion) in Montreal (in 2011). I never missed time for a concussion after that. I’m not really scared.”

Letang said he will be ready for next season.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Oh yeah. Right from training camp.”

It’s likely the prognoses for both Letang and Dupuis will affect how Rutherford addresses free agency and potential offseason trades. The Penguins missed Dupuis’ production up front — in his last full season, the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, he had 38 points in 48 games — and Letang was the biggest injury on a blueline that was decimated in the second half of the season, to where the Pens dressed just five d-men for a couple of games down the stretch.