June 07, 2018 07:41 PM
Key video depositions shed new light into a federal lawsuit filed in St. Paul against the National Hockey League.
Former NHL players - including more than a dozen from Minnesota - are accusing the league of keeping them in the dark about the dangers of concussions and head injuries in a lawsuit first filed nearly five years ago.
KSTP Investigation: Fighting Back
NHL and individual team executives - including commissioner Gary Bettman - swore to tell the truth while being recorded in the video depositions recorded a few years ago and just obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
The depositions have been heavily redacted in the copies obtained.
But the clips offer a glimpse into the league's defense in which they continue to downplay the science related to repeated head trauma, including the neurodegenerative disease known as CTE, as well as the risks of fighting.
Lawyer: "…at what level of certainty would you as commissioner need before - I really want the players to get warned - that repeated head hits in one form of another might lead to neurodegenerative brain disease?"
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: “When the experts in the field tell us that would be a prudent thing to do - cause I'm not a doctor ok - when they tell us that's the prudent and appropriate thing to do - and the players’ association agrees that's the message they want delivered to the players - that's when you consider doing that."
That deposition took place on July 31, 2015 Video obtained showed the commissioner defending the role of fighting in hockey.
That's despite concerns from former players and other league executives who feel fighting jeopardizes player safety.
"....I think it goes back to concussions and brain injuries.....I've had former enforcers reach out to me and offered their support to us...they are all scared scared...," said Brendan Shanahan, who at the time was the NHL Director of Player Safety, during another July 2015 deposition.
But other deposition clips reviewed show hockey officials downplaying any perceived risks from fighting.
Lou Lamoriello, New York Islanders General Manager: "...90-percent of fights in the NHL...no one even lands a punch...90 percent of the fights are almost wrestling matches....,”
Lawyer: “Where is that statistic coming from?"
Lamoriello: "I have no statistic (points to head). I'm giving you my appearance over the years…”
A federal judge in St. Paul could rule at any moment on whether or not this concussion case becomes a class-action suit, which would allow any former NHL player to join.
The ex-players in the suit want the league to pay for medical monitoring for health issues.
Updated: June 07, 2018 07:41 PM
Created: June 07, 2018 05:50 PM
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