In the ongoing lawsuit between the NHL and over 100 former NHL players, the league has begun to try and shift blame to the NHLPA for impeding rule changes that may have better protected its members. In the latest report from Rick Westhead of TSN who has been following this story from the beginning, he includes sections of an affidavit from Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly filed with the court on Thursday. The plaintiffs are trying to get the case certified as class action which—similar to the recent certification of the OHL lawsuit—would automatically include over 5000 former players as plaintiffs.
In the affidavit, Daly writes:
A history of the playing rules, supplemental discipline, equipment standards, playing environment characteristics and/or the league’s approach to player safety that fails to consider and account for the NHLPA’s role with respect to these matters is inherently incomplete and profoundly misleading.
Westhead also added on Twitter documents that point to players refusing concussion testing in the past, adding to the idea that it was the players themselves who slowed down concussion prevention and diagnoses. Recently, the courts denied the NHL’s request for all research and communication from Boston University’s study of CTE, saying that it would be a “staggering” task for the study to complete because of the retractions they would have to make on each document to protect patient confidentiality.
Should the case be certified class action, the NHL could possibly be liable for much more than if individual players had to pursue individual claims. Westhead reports that the courts could decide this summer over whether or not to certify it. While this is obviously far from decided at the moment, it does seem to point to a bigger strategy by the league to implicate that the players themselves are a party to any and all concussion issues the hockey world has faced.