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SBD/December 2, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies
NHL Concussion Suit Plaintiffs Face Different Circumstances Than NFL Counterparts
Published December 2, 2013
TAKING THE BLAME: In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote anyone who ever has played in the NHL "has the right to know whether he has been lied to about medical issues by his team or the league." If the "only way to get such answers is through the legal system, actions such as the lawsuit filed early last week ... will serve a valuable purpose." Many former NHLers in the past week "seem to have mixed feelings about the lawsuit, and few believe they were lied to by responsible parties." Brooks: "These guys bemoan their lousy pensions, but they don't blame the league." If they "blame anyone and anything, they blame themselves, they blame their culture, and they blame their time" (N.Y. POST, 12/1). In Newark, Eliot Shorr-Parks noted former NHLer Jeremy Roenick "did not jump on board" with the lawsuit. Roenick said, "I've always lived in the fact that I played the game of hockey knowing there was a lot of risk to be taken. I went on the ice knowing that my health and my life could be altered in a split second." He added, "I'm not going to tell people what to do and say. ... They can go after the league that they craved to be in since they were little kids and paid their salary" (NJ.com, 11/27). The DENVER POST's Dater in a front-page piece profiles former NHLer Scott Parker, once one of the league's "toughest enforcers." But Parker now "finds himself paying the price for years of blows to his head." Parker is not part of the suit, and to "this day, he defends fighting and says he understood the risks" (DENVER POST, 12/2). The CBC's Don Cherry on Saturday said the lawsuit is a "money grab." He acknowledged he feels sorry for "some of the guys who maybe got whacked a little." But Cherry added, "They say they didn't know the danger going into the National Hockey League? Absolutely ridiculous" ("HNIC," CBC, 11/30).
ON SECOND THOUGHT: The AP noted former NHLer Rick Vaive "asked that his name be removed" from the suit. Vaive’s lawyer, Trevor Whiffen, said that his client "wasn’t provided with a copy of the claim beforehand and that he would not have agreed to the allegations made against the NHL had he been asked to review its contents." Whiffen in a statement said, “Mr. Vaive misunderstood the nature of the proceeding being brought, and believed this claim was similar to the worker’s compensation claim being advanced in California on behalf of several former NHL players" (AP, 11/29).