Former National Hockey League (NHL) players suing the league for failing to warn them of the long-term effects of repeated concussions asked a Minnesota federal court to certify a class of players who qualify for medical monitoring and players who have already been diagnosed with neurological problems.
The players claim that the league’s inaction and covering up risks of the sport has put each member of the class at risk for developing degenerative neurological diseases from repeated concussions, such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS and CTE. One of the group’s experts has opined that the average NHL player suffers one to three hits to the head during each game.
With each serious blow to the head, a protein called tau is released and deposits in the brain. A buildup of tau contributes to the specific long-term brain damage seen in former professional athletes of contact sports such as football and hockey.
“Thus, all members of the classes have received a present, permanent injury as a result of the head impacts sustained during their NHL playing careers,” the players stated in their redacted motion.
The former players are asking for medical monitoring involving comprehensive history and neurological examination, blood tests for pituitary function, and neuropsychological exam, and an MRI.
On Dec. 2, in response to the former players’ complaint, the NHL laid out 26 potentially “affirmative” defenses noting that the league does not necessarily believe it will succeed on each of the points laid out in its laundry list of defenses but raised them to preserve them for later.