Bob Bourne, Bruce Bell, Scott Parker and Bernie Nicholls have publicly joined the class action lawsuit that claims the NHL did not do enough to address the health implications of head injuries that occur in league games. One excerpt from the lawsuit states players “were not told by the NHL, how dangerous this repeated brain trauma is.” Players are seeking financial damages along with medical monitoring of players’ injuries.
Led by former Toronto Maple Leafs winger Gary Leeman, the ten original plaintiffs filed the class action lawsuit in November of 2013 in federal court.Within 48 hours of filing the case, more than 200 players stepped forward to join the legal battle.
Bob Bourne is a four-time Stanley Cup champion who played with the New York Islanders from 1975 to 1986. Bruce Bell was a defenseman with the St. Louis Blues whose hockey career suffered from a devastating bodycheck by Toronto’s Wendel Clark in 1987. Winger Scott Parker was an enforcer with the Colorado Avalanche who has battled postconcussion symptoms since his retirement in 2008. Nicholls was a star center for the Los Angeles Kings in the late ’80s, and scored 70 goals in the 1988-89 season.
The NHL lawsuit came just three months after the NFL agreed to pay $765 million in a settlement with more than 4,000 retired players over head injuries. Similar to the lawsuit against the NFL, this lawsuit claims that the NHL has promoted a culture of violence through its mass media appeal — a culture in which NHL players are encouraged to play “despite an injury,” for fear of lost playing time or demotion.
The main argument the ex-players will hope to prove in court is that, “The NHL has known or should have known of this growing body of scientific evidence and its compelling conclusion that hockey players who sustain repetitive concussive events, sub-concussive events and/or brain injuries are at significantly greater risk for chronic neuro-cognitive illness and disabilities both during their hockey careers and later in life.”
An NHL spokesman told The New York Times that the league has no new comment on the lawsuit.