U.S. Senator Challenges Bettman on Head Trauma in Hockey

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) has challenged NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the NHL’s response to head trauma and concussions in the game of hockey.


In a letter by Blumenthal released on Monday, the Senator voiced his concern over Bettman’s refusal to link concussions to brain disease and efforts to study the ongoing issues associated with the continued problem. Blumenthal wrote that Bettman’s position could create safety concerns for hockey players at all levels.

“Your apparent current indifference is a disservice to fans and players,” he wrote.

Blumenthal wrote that the league’s response to his June letter notes concussions can cause “long-term lasting effects” like “permanent brain injury” and “permanent brain damage,” but the league appears unwilling to consider even the possibility that concussions cause CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).

Blumenthal referenced the National Football League’s “decade of denial” of the link between playing football and acquiring CTE, as well as reports in medical journals on the topic, as evidence to support his position that the NHL should recognize a link between hockey and CTE.

“To honor the sport and its players, I urge you to establish a foundation to support independent, impartial research and understanding about the science of head trauma and brain disease later in life, vigorously working to uncover the truth rather than degrading science and the game. An investment in such research literally would help save lives – and enable the league to lead by example. It would put the NHL on the right side of history and health,” Blumenthal wrote.

Blumenthal, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate’s subcommittee on consumer protection, which has jurisdiction over professional sports, previously penned a letter to Bettman in June about his concerns with the league’s apparent position on “the issue of concussions and the health crisis that could plague some players with brain diseases like CTE.”