Former Hockey Players and NHL Square Off in Courtroom

March 16, 2018 10:36 PM

In the state of hockey, a major lawsuit filed by former National Hockey League players against the league took center stage in federal court in St. Paul on Friday. They accuse the league of failing to warn players about the health risks with brain injuries and concussions.

RELATED: NHL Commissioner's Deposition Unsealed in Concussion Lawsuit


U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson will decide if the case moves forward as a class-action, which could allow any former NHL player to join the suit that was originally filed back in 2014.

In the lawsuit, more than 150 former NHL players, including 17 Minnesotans, allege the league promoted violence and fighting to pursue profits while downplaying the health risks associated with concussions.

The ex-players want the NHL to pay for medical monitoring for health issues and also health care for players already diagnosed with degenerative brain diseases.

"Hopefully, it will improve and save lives," said David Cialkowski, one of the former players' attorney in court Friday afternoon about medical care.

RELATED: Fighting Back: Former Players Say NHL Downplayed Concussions, Ignores Science

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman previously said the lawsuit has "no merit whatsoever."

The NHL's legal team told the court "it's a real risk to due process," for players and the league to be lumped into one case, because they range in when they played hockey and what they were told varied over the years.

A league attorney, John Beisner, told the court the "alleged" link to a brain disease like CTE from head injuries is disputed in the scientific community.

"We all love the league, we loved playing, it was an honor," said former Minnesota North Star Reed Larson, who is part of the suit. "I wish people would get the message, we just want to help the players who need medical monitoring or medical help."

Larson played for six NHL teams during the mid-1970's to early 1990's.


Eric Chaloux

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