NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, along with deputy commissioner Bill Daly and Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello, have been subpoenaed to testify in a worker’s compensation case brought by former NHL enforcer Mike Peluso against the New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, and Calgary Flames, according to a report by TSN’s Rick Westhead. Peluso, now 51 years old, retired from the NHL in 1998 after a nine-year career in which he recorded nearly 2000 penalty minute and was known as a fearless fighter. However, five years ago, Peluso filed a worker’s compensation claim against several of of his former teams, alleging that they breached the duty of care owed to him by insufficiently advising him of health risks and withholding key medical records during his playing time. Peluso argues that, but for this negligence, the severe head trauma that has caused his permanent disability could have been prevented. Peluso suffers from frequent seizures, early onset dementia, and overall neurological impairment that leaves him unable to work. Peluso has previously clashed with Lamoriello, the former New Jersey GM when Peluso played, and the Devils in regards to gaining access to medical records, and now seeks to depose his former general manager as well. Additionally, Peluso has filed a lawsuit against the Devils and Blues alleging battery, intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress, fraud and misrepresentation in relation to their knowledge and alleged cover up of his brain trauma.
By being subpoenaed, Bettman, Daly, and Lamoriello are now scheduled to make depositions in early November as to the role of injury reporting in the NHL and, should they refuse to show up, could be legally compelled to do so. These depositions could play a major role in the ongoing concussion issues facing the NHL, if either of these three prominent and respected executives were to admit that teams did not share information with players in a proper manner. Peluso has already turned down a $325K settlement offer and is on record as saying “I want the world to hear Bettman and Lamoriello have to answer for what they have done… so many players have been abandoned by the NHL. When you can’t promote their game anymore, if you’re not a big name or a star, they toss you aside.” Peluso seems just as motivated to expose the league as he does to recover for his medical condition and this could be the beginning of a highly publicized and heated exchange. The concussion issue has publicly plagued the National Football League for years and could soon hit the NHL in such a way.
- Bettman has yet to comment on his subpoena, but in fairness has been dealing with another league issue that has many upset. No, not the Olympics, but the future (and past) home of the New York Islanders. Bettman recently shut down rumors of a possible Isles’ return to the Nassau Coliseum, telling Newsday’s Jim Baumbach and Steve Zipay that he doesn’t see the location as a viable option. Bettman adds that the Islanders have not yet inquired with the league whether they would be allowed to return to Nassau County or not, but Bettman’s “gut reaction” was that it would not happen. Local legislators have been doing their part to try to woo the Isles back home, but have not gotten anywhere to this point. For now, the Islanders will continue to play at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, which is poorly-suited for hockey, but can opt out of their 25-year-lease without issue if they do so prior to January 30th, 2018. There has been no word as to whether the Islanders are ready to make that commitment or not, but the Newsday article does mention that plans are moving forward for the Islanders to move on from both Barclay’s and Nassau, opting instead to build a new facility near Belmont Racetrack in Queens.