YardBarker- The NHL has argued that players should have put two and two together about the dangers of fighting, but the players that have sued have argued that the NHL was negligent in much the same way the NFL was. In these leaked e-mails, the players case seems to have gotten stronger.
“Do you remember what happened when we tried to eliminate the staged fights?” wrote commissioner Gary Bettman on Sept. 3, 2011, Brendan Shanahan (then NHL chief of discipline) and deputy commish Bill Daly. “The ‘fighters’ objected and so did the pa [NHLPA]. Eliminating fighting would mean eliminating the jobs of the ‘fighters’, meaning that these guys would not have NHL careers. An interesting question is whether being an NHL fighter does this to you (I don’t believe so) or whether a certain type of person (who wouldn’t otherwise be skilled enough to be an NHL player) gravitates to this job (I believe more likely).”
Daly replied: “I tend to think its a little bit of both. Fighting raises the incidence of head injuries/concussions, which raises the incidence of depression onset, which raises the incidence of personal tragedies.”
“I believe the fighting and possible concussions could aggravate a condition,” Bettman wrote. “But if you think about the tragedies there were probably certain predispositions. Again, though, the bigger issue is whether the [NHLPA] would consent to in effect eliminate a certain type of ‘role’ and player. And, if they don’t, we might try to do it anyway and take the ‘fight’ (pun intended).”
In a later chain, Brendan Shanahan began the discussion, “This is not the same role as it was in the 80’s and 90’s,” Shanahan wrote. “Fighters used to aspire to become regular players. Train and practice to move from 4th line to 3rd. Now they train and practice becoming more fearsome fighters. They used to take alcohol or cocaine to cope. (Kordic) Now they take pills. Pills to sleep. Pills to wake up. Pills to ease the pain. Pills to amp up. Getting them online.”
Oh my God! You're telling me the NHL knew this whole time that dropping your gloves and punching people square in the face can cause them serious head injuries?! Sue them for all they are worth. I can't believe that they have been jeopardizing the health of players that serve no purpose other than causing other players as much harm as they possibly can. Roger Goodell is getting hell for covering up the long term effects of concussions on the brain, and we are going to let Gary Bettman get away with covering up the fact that consensually deciding to beat the piss out of each other might result in more than a broken hand or a bloody lip? How dare he hide something so obvious. Just letting players with no apparent skill set go around acting like sacrificial lambs without even knowing the severity of what they were doing to their bodies? How could they possibly understand that needing prescription pills just to be able to play was a bad sign without being told so by Gary Bettman and his morally comprised cronies?
I guess these leaked e-mails mean the players could win the case, but the case - in and of itself - makes the players look pretty damn stupid, no? Yes, the NHL knew that making the conscious decision to get hit in the head on a daily basis was bad for you, but so did every other person in the world that hasn't subjected their brain to a routine beating. It's not like we are talking about tackling in football. Fighting might be part of hockey, but it's far from a necessity of the game. I don't want the NHL to do away with it, but if they decided to it wouldn't make a significant impact on the entertainment value. I think fighting serves a purpose, but I refuse to believe that people chose to engage in it without realizing how dangerous it could be. Pretty sure it was public information that boxing could shorten your lifespan well before 2011, and being a goon in hockey is essential like deciding to be an untrained boxer on ice without gloves. It sucks that some former NHL players have fallen victim to the effects of fighting and I hope they are reimbursed for all they gave to the sport. However, let's not act like they weren't aware of the risks associated with actively choosing a career in which they were going to have to frequently bare knuckle brawl to keep their job.