In Emails, N.H.L. Officials Conceded Concussion Risks of Fights
The N.H.L.’s top officials have privately acknowledged that fighting could lead to concussions and long-term health problems, including depression, and that so-called enforcers frequently use pills “to ease the pain,” according to emails unsealed during a continuing court battle with former players.
The exchanges, mostly between Commissioner Gary Bettman and his top lieutenants in 2011, contradict what the league has said publicly and what it has argued in defending itself from a class-action lawsuit brought by dozens of former players over the effects of concussions.
After three N.H.L. enforcers died between May and August 2011 — all either by suicide or accidentally while struggling with personal problems — league officials contemplated in a series of emails whether to eliminate fighting from the league.