By Ken Reed

Get this: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman believes player safety is a primary consideration for his league.

“We have been extraordinarily proactive on the whole issue of player safety, and I think our record in that regard speaks volumes,” says Bettman.

I didn’t see him when he said this but I presume he said it with a straight face.

The reality is Bettman heads the only major professional sports league in North America that allows fighting. He and other fighting proponents believe it’s a necessary part of the game. This despite the fact that Olympic, European and NCAA hockey gets along just fine without it.

Now the NHL is facing a lawsuit from 10 former NHL players for negligence and fraud, saying the NHL didn’t do enough to address head issues and promote player safety after becoming aware of concussions and brain trauma in their sport. Instead, the players claim, the NHL promoted and profited from violence on the ice.

The NHL case is very similar to a case brought by former players against the National Football League. That lawsuit resulted in a $765 million settlement for the players.

The NHL players will have one big advantage in this case that the NFL players didn’t have: They’re suing a league that embraces fisticuffs as part of their game.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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