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Former NHL defenseman Steve Montador was only 35 years old when he was found dead on February 2015.
A few months following his death, researchers with the Canadian Sports Concussion Project disclosed Montador had suffered from Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a progressive degenerative brain disease found in people, especially athletes, with a history of repetitive brain trauma.
Despite what the science clearly shows, commissioner Gary Bettman, the league and its beefy legal team have vehemently denied a link between professional hockey and CTE. It doesn’t look like the NHL’s stance on the issue will be changing anytime soon, either.
In a new court filing, the league alleges it is “not to blame for any of the injuries or health problems suffered by former NHL player Steve Montador, who was posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after his death in 2015,” per TSN’s Rick Westhead.
Montador’s family filed a lawsuit against the NHL at the end of 2015, alleging it has profited off the product it sells while not properly advising its players of the risks of repeated blows to the head and brain trauma. That suit was paused for nearly four years as the league fought against, and tentatively settled, a proposed class-action suit involving more than 300 former players.
As part of the minuscule (around $22,000 per player) settlement, every individual and family involved were barred from pursuing any future legal action. And it’s looking to be much of the same for Montador’s family as this ugly battle trudges on more than four years after Steve’s death.
Any and all claims related to Montador’s injury “may be barred, in whole or in part, from recovery due to his contributory and/or comparative negligence,” the NHL alleged, according to Westhead.
“Any injury or damage sustained by (Montador) was caused, in whole or in part, by (Montador's) own lack of due care and fault, and/or by pre-existing conditions; and/or the lack of due care of others for whom the NHL has no responsibility or control,” the league wrote in its answer to the Montador family’s lawsuit.
Montador played 571 games during a 14-year NHL career that included stops with the Flames, Panthers, Ducks, Bruins, Sabres and Blackhawks, and his family claims that he suffered at least 11 documented concussions in the NHL, including four in 12 weeks during a stretch in 2012.
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