In a response to an inquiry from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), NHL commissioner Gary Bettman restated his belief that there is no proven connection between concussions and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
“The science regarding CTE, including on the asserted ‘link’ to concussions that you reference, remains nascent, particularly with respect to what causes CTE and whether it can be diagnosed by specific clinical symptoms,” Bettman said. “A causal link between concussions and CTE has not been demonstrated” and “the relationship between concussion and the asserted clinical symptoms of CTE remains unknown.”
The class-action lawsuit against the NHL currently includes 105 former players. CTE has been diagnosed in six deceased former NHL players, as well as around 100 former football players.
Bettman placed blame for the attention being paid to CTE on the former players who are suing the league for not warning them about the risk associated with concussions. He also blames the media for that attention.
“This, sadly, is precisely the type of tragedy that can result when plaintiffs’ lawyers and their media consultants jump ahead of the medical community and assert, without reliable scientific support, that there is a causal link between concussions and CTE,” Bettman said. “Certainly, a more measured approach consistent with the medical community consensus would be a safer, more prudent course.”
The NFL has taken a step towards acknowledging the link between CTE and concussions, with NFL senior vice president of health and safety Jeff Miller telling a congressional committee that the research done at Boston University has “certainly” established the connection.