NHL salary cap will climb to $71 million next season

CHICAGO (AP) NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expects the salary cap for the 2015-16 season to settle in around $71 million, depending on the fluctuations of the Canadian dollar.

Appearing between the first and second periods of Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night between the Anaheim Ducks and hometown Blackhawks, the commissioner said he expects it to climb five percent from this year's cap figure of $69 million.

Bettman also faced several questions about concussions three months after the death of former defenseman Steve Montador, 35, who was subsequently found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephelopathy - or CTE - a degenerative brain disease.

Montador played briefly for the Blackhawks and a handful of other teams during a career that spanned 10 seasons. He suffered as many as a half-dozen concussions and finished his playing days in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League before leaving the sport in 2013.

More than 70 named former players are taking part in a lawsuit against the NHL, claiming the league failed to warn them of the true dangers of repetitive head trauma.

''From a medical and scientific standpoint,'' Bettman said about a possible link between concussions and CTE, ''there is no evidence yet that one leads to the other.''

Chris Nowinski, co-founder of the Boston-based Sports Legacy Institute, which leads research on traumatic brain injuries in athletes, responded on Bettman's remarks on Twitter.

''If `necessarily' means `always,' fine. If not, then `no evidence' is untrue. We have `some' pretty good evidence.''

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