Gary Bettman Has A Problem with CTE, And He's Not Showing Much Care

Concussion protocol is a big concern in the NHL, and Gary Bettman provided some mind-numbing commentary towards it.

One of the growing trends and issues in sports today is concussion protocol. Not only does this exist in hockey, but most other major sports. There's no doubt about it, leagues, teams, and yes, some players simply do not take concussions serious enough. Too often do we see players not properly attended to after taking a hit to the head. Whether it's a small hit, or a big hit, there should be a protocol for every direct hit an athlete takes to his or her head. This seems logical, doesn't it? As of late, the NHL has been fending off concussion lawsuits left and right. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman gave out a rather concerning comment recently in regards to CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a degenerative brain disease commonly found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma:

Really, Gary? The sheer and utter ignorance of this comment is a gleaming example of professional sports organizations not taking concussion protocol seriously. As a man who is the chairman of a league who is seeing concussion lawsuits practically every other month if not sooner, you would think he could have the sense to word his statements a bit differently.

With the recent passing of former-NHL player Steve Montador, a lot of questions began to surface about the NHL's concussion protocol. Montador had sustained a serious concussion in 2012 while he was with the Chicago Blackhawks. Montador's family has since filed lawsuit against the NHL after it was discovered that Montador was a victim of CTE, which was found posthumously. Montador's family has filed the lawsuit alleging that the NHL did very little to remedy players who had sustained concussions before 2011.

Here is the Montador family's statement (from

"First and foremost, our family has forever lost a son, brother, uncle and father," Montador's father, Steve, said in a statement. "Many others have lost a great friend. The finding of widespread CTE in Steven's brain helps us all better understand that his brain was ravaged by disease and he was unable to control it. Through hard work and dedication, Steven achieved his big dream of playing professional hockey in the NHL. He always knew that there might be black eyes, broken bones and soft tissue injuries -- but he never anticipated that playing the game he loved would result in such devastating impairment of his brain function. CTE changed everything."

Bettman's comments come off as completely tone deaf, and disrespectful to the players of the present, and the past.

After Gary Bettman's comments on CTE, and how "nothing leads to the other", how should we feel about this? I, for one, am completely outraged. The Red Wings' power-forward Johan Franzen has sustained double-digit concussions since beginning his NHL career. Bettman's comments to me come off as completely tone deaf, and disrespectful to the players of the present, and the past. With the recent tragedy of Steve Montador's death in February, and the discovery of CTE in his brain, as a fan, I am concerned. What is going to happen to players like Franzen after they call it quits? As I noted in my article linked above, there was a point where Franzen couldn't even get out of bed to play with his children or even interact with his wife.

David Haugh from the LA Times had a really great standpoint on Bettman's comments:

It's amazing Bettman could be heard speaking, what with his head in the sand. Even if Bettman was doing nothing more than publicly laying groundwork for an NHL legal defense, to claim with such authority that concussions might have no connection to CTE defied logic. Even if Bettman can find scientists to support his claim, dismissing CTE as a potential result of multiple concussions hardly reflects a man paid well to protect the game.


It's no surprise to me that the man who is paid handsomely to best represent and overlook the livelihood of his employer's brand is trying to debunk CTE concerns from media, players, fans, and families. Say what you want, think as you will, but the bottom line is that Bettman's comments are complete buffoonery, and it shows just what the model of his business plan is: Preserving his brand.

I guess my question to the NHL Commissioner is as follows:

Just because the player has left the game, doesn't mean the game has left the player

How many more players will have to be affected longterm from traumatic brain damage, Gary? Heaven forbid another player loses his life because you continue to dismiss the big picture here. The fact of the matter is that you are dodging CTE as a major concern. You stand on the shoulders of a giant, and look down on those who have been distressed on this matter and you practically mock them by not properly addressing what is in front of you. Just because the player has left the game, doesn't mean the game has left the player.

At the end of the day, lawsuits will keep coming in, the NHL will deal with them how they choose, and they will continue to look the other way while others suffer. Shame on you, Gary.