Former NHL player safety executive Brendan Shanahan discussed the link between concussions and the death of of former enforcer Wade Belak in unsealed NHL emails from 2011, reports Travis Hughes of SB Nation.
Belak, who hung himself in his Toronto hotel room in August 2011, had suffered from bouts of depression while battling the effects of his injuries and his use of painkillers.
The emails were unsealed as part of a concussion lawsuit against the league by former NHL players who allege that the NHL did not properly warn them or address the dangers of repeated head injuries.
“We all know that we’ve talked abut a time where we impose stiffer penalties for fighting so I wouldn’t see this so much as reactionary but more opportunistic that the timing is right to get the support to finally say enough,” Shanahan wrote.
“Regardless of what the specific reasons are that drove Wade to this, I think it simply goes back to concussions and brain injuries,” Shanahan added.
Shanahan went on to say that increasing the penalties for fighting is the “right thing to do.”
Belak was selected 12th overall in the 1994 NHL draft. He went on to play in 549 games for the Avalanche, Flames, Maple Leafs, Panthers and Predators.