Three months after the NFL agreed on a $765 million settlement with thousands of ex-players for concussion-related health problems, a group of their NHL peers is going to court, too.
Hockey has proven to be an equally dangerous sport as football, but that doesn't mean the link between collisions on the ice and post-career trouble will lead to a similar outcome. The legal and cultural surroundings of the NFL and NHL concussion lawsuits are more distinct than alike.
Start with the nature of the players themselves.
Former NFL players haven't just taken the league to task for their concussion-related concerns; they've sued over all kinds of alleged misconduct, including their rights to memorabilia and highlight film revenue.
In the NHL, there's more blatant loyalty expressed by the guys who used to don the uniforms. Hockey players have a penchant for closing ranks when controversy arises, and this is no different.
Two prominent former players, Ken Daneyko and Keith Primeau, expressed disinterest in pursuing concussion claims against the league when interviewed prior to the introduction of the lawsuit despite their lingering physical side effects from years of playing the game.
Jeremy Roenick, in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, was even more outspoken about his disregard for the lawsuit that was filed Monday in federal court in Washington.
"I'm not going to tell people what to do and say they're all trying to cap on the system right now. That's their prerogative," said Roenick, a 20-year veteran of five NHL teams. "They can put themselves in public. They can go after the league that they craved to be in since they were little kids and paid their salary. ... I've always lived in the fact that I played the game of hockey knowing there was a lot of risk to be taken. I went on the ice knowing that my health and my life could be altered in a split second, and I did it because I loved the game."
Roenick said he had 13 concussions during his career.
"I can tell you that the teams I was with handled it very well and professionally throughout the whole ordeal," Roenick said.
Ten former players, including All-Star forward Gary Leeman, are named as plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit. It alleges the NHL hasn't done enough to protect players from concussions and seeks court-approved, NHL-sponsored medical monitoring for the players' injuries as well as monetary damages. Attorney Steve Silverman said a total of about 200 former players have signed up to be included in the action.
"What the NFL concussion lawsuit did, not in the minds of the lawyers but in the minds of the former players, was give them confidence and hope that, yes, David can slay Goliath," Silverman said on Tuesday.