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Former players argue they had ‘no knowledge’ of concussion science

Detroit Red Wings Alumni v Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 31: Gary Leeman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni makes his entrance prior to the game against the Detroit Red Wings Alumni during game action on December 31, 2013 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

You may recall a few weeks ago when it was revealed that the NHL had argued in a court filing that former players who’d suffered concussions, based on the information that was out there at the time, should have been able to “put two and together” and conclude that head injuries posed a serious health risk.

As you might expect, the former players who are suing the league disagree rather strongly with that notion.


In newly filed documents obtained by TSN, lawyers for players including Joe Murphy, Bernie Nicholls and Gary Leeman rubbish the NHL’s claims, saying players had “no knowledge of the medical literature, and no understanding of any need to go find it because they relied on the NHL for information about player health and safety.”

“Whether players could have accessed information in the public sphere is a red herring,” the players say in court filings. “By representing that the NHL was the caretaker of player safety and was responsible for researching concussions... the NHL was telling players not to look for or believe what the NHL now says the players should have researched and understood.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated this week that the league didn’t believe the lawsuits had any merit.

In June, Bettman called on current players to take responsibility for their own well-being, saying they must continue to learn that it’s “okay to say you’re suffering from concussion symptoms.”

Related: Do the players suing the NHL over concussions have a case?