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Dan Fritsche, Chris Ferraro file concussion-related lawsuit against NHL

Aug 3, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

Minnesota Wild v New York Rangers Getty Images

Former NHL players Dan Fritsche (pictured) and Chris Ferraro are the latest names to pop up in concussion-related legal actions toward the league, as TSN’s Rick Westhead reports that they were mentioned in a lawsuit filed in New York on July 25.

The gist of this suit is that the league downplayed risks related to head injuries/concussions, including allegedly failing to share the findings of studies with players. Westhead passes along this passage from the lawsuit, which provides a summary of their argument:

“The NHL has intentionally created, fostered, and promoted a culture of extreme violence, including violence from fighting. The NHL has known that, due to such violence, head trauma to plaintiffs and the class has been and is imminent,” the lawsuit says. “The NHL has known that head trauma to plaintiffs and the class has and will be devastating and long-term negative health effects. Despite this knowledge and to maintain its revenue stream from violent construct, the NHL has and does intentionally subject plaintiffs and the class to head trauma.”

One interesting element of the lawsuit is that their representatives reportedly called on the league to begin a “medical monitoring program” for former and current players suffering from such injuries.

Some of the other details are a little fuzzier at this time, possibly because some elements are subject to change. Westhead’s report indicates that lawyers might eventually pursue a class-action lawsuit with about 100 people involved while the case already may involve damages of “more than $5 million.”

This is the fifth lawsuit related to concussions in the NHL, as word surfaced of the fourth one late in July. Here’s a quick look back at the threats of legal action:

  1. onemorematt - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:51 AM

    I’m sorry, but how can you NOT know that getting hit in the head is bad for you, both short and long term? Did the league also fail to inform you that skates are sharp and pucks are frozen chunks of vulcanized rubber you’d rather not get hit with? Or did common sense just kind of kick in there?

    • ibieiniid - Aug 4, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      I’m not saying I agree with all these suits, but what do you mean? The severity of future complications caused by concussions hasn’t been widely known for that long. Skate cuts and bruises from pucks likely won’t be bothering their victims years down the road like concussions do (barring an infection or something).

  2. stakex - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:48 AM

    These lawsuits are such a joke, and nothing but blatant attempts to grab some cash from a hot button issue. The two guys in this one are both NHL rejects, likely angry that they weren’t good enough to have sustained careers in the big league.

    One funny fact is that Dan Fritsche is actually still playing professional hockey in Switzerland, which seems strange if he’s so concerned about the dangers of the sport.

  3. hockeyflow33 - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:26 AM

    I expect to see their junior, college and minor league teams named as defendants too.

    Don’t forget your youth and high school leagues guys.

  4. argofckyourself - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:18 AM

    I have no problem with anybody wants to take Gary Bettman to court and cost the league money. He’s probably the worst thing to ever happen to the NHL.

    But looking at it from a logical perspective, you can’t blame the ex-players for piggybacking and trying to get involved in these lawsuits. The NHL only just recently started taking precautions to prevent head injuries. They knew, just as the players did, the dangers of head trauma that exist from playing hockey, and as usual, the league did nothing to even attempt to prevent it until disaster struck.

    • stixzidinia - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      He’s actually the best thing that’s happened to the NHL. It’s fashionable to bash on Bettman but it’s based in ignorance. The league has never been more marketable or popular. TV ratings, merchandising, attendance….all at historic highs. He’s got NHL revenues almost up to 4 billion. That’s nearly half of the NFL, a league that’s far ahead of anybody in popularity. If you wish to blame the lockouts on somebody, blame them on his bosses…..the owners. He got this league a much needed salary cap and the parity that came with it.

      You can fault him for placing teams in places like Phoenix or Sunrise, but he’s had far more hits than misses as Commish.

  5. storminator16 - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    Sigh. I cringe when I see these lawsuits but on one hand I do understand what they are trying to do. Hockey governing bodies across North America have raised the bar and are now making the more safer. These entities will continue to make changes as time goes on. This is only good to cause the game to become safer, which is a good thing.

    At face value it could look like a cash grab but I look at it as bringing awareness to a culture of violence. With that said, contact sports are a culture of violence and these former should sue their parents for getting them involved in it, not the NHL. They should also sue themselves because some of them have put their kids through hockey, too.

    I’ll reserve other comments because it wouldn’t be fair because we really have no idea what some of these ex-players may or may not be going through. We can speculate all we want but it just makes us look like donkeys.

    • storminator16 - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:35 AM

      Proofread that 3 times and still screwed it up. Can we get an “edit” button?

      “Hockey governing bodies across North America have raised the bar and are now making the [game] more safe.”

  6. patthehockeyfan - Aug 4, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    I cringe, too, when reading about concussion-related lawsuits. What makes me cringe is thinking about what these former and current players are physically experiencing. Impossible to imagine.

    Rather than bat back and forth who knew what and when, can’t the NHL at least provide some long-term insurance care for these types of injuries? All the protective equipment in the world won’t prevent a concussion. While they’re at it, the NHL should fund medical research into concussions to learn how to best treat them.

    • 19to77 - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      This. This is an entirely reasonable expectation. Rather than former players acting like the NHL has a secret evil plan to keep players ignorant of concussions so it can make money (seriously, this suit reads like a conspiracy theory), rather than fans accusing them of going for a cash grab or having not been good enough to stick in the NHL (because so many of the regulars on this blog have been drafted), let’s slow down everyone’s desperation to crucify each other and think about things that actually help improve the situation. Having some sort of medical coverage system in place for post-career concussion symptoms would go miles to alleviating players’ concerns, and it would probably end up saving the NHL money by pre-empting legal crap like this.

    • hockeyflow33 - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:36 PM

      Then if hockey is so dangerous to his health and this isn’t a money grab, why is Fritsche still playing professionally?

  7. phtjoey - Aug 4, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    all deliberate shots to the head should be suspenable. no exceptions. NHL can’t hide anymore because the science is not on their side.

  8. ibieiniid - Aug 4, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    I cringe when I see people discount the health of a human being because they “weren’t good enough to have sustained careers in the big league.” If it was a legend from your favorite team, you’d sing a different tune. Not to mention, even if they’re in the AHL, they’re still in the big team’s organization, making the big team money.

    Face it, you don’t know the guy, you don’t know his coaches, you don’t know what either of their intentions were tens of years ago. Let the judges decide and stop being so harsh on these guys whose lives have likely been ruined medically and financially for perpetrating some sort of “money grab” to pay for their hospital bills.

  9. 19to77 - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    What an unbelievably infantile, “It’s everyone’s fault but mine!” tone the suit takes. “The NHL has and does intentionally subject plaintiffs and the class to head trauma.” Are you f–king kidding me? Both these men had to play hockey for YEARS to get even a SNIFF at the NHL. The NHL isn’t “subjecting” them to anything. They chose this career and it took years of hockey to pursue it. They knew exactly what they signed up for. Maybe these guys didn’t specifically know all the details about concussions when they were rookies but they’d been playing hockey for years at that point. Both had figured out that getting hit in the head by a speeding hockey player is often pretty dangerous, despite their attempt to claim ignorance now. And Jesus, if concussions have derailed Fritsche’s life so much, maybe he should hang up the skates – as stakex pointed out, he’s still playing in the Swiss League.

    • fightingwild - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      But they are actually. By allowing fighting & even encourages it (the only major league int he world that does.) It is promoting the culture of violence. They call them modern day gladiators & then show the knock out blows of fights in the promos for the season & the play offs. The players however are also money hungry & willingly & knowingly subject themselves to such treatment in the hopes of cashing in. Both parties are at fault. Hell even us fans are at fault. Look at how pumped we get & how much we scream when our player cleans the ice with the other. I am a Wild fan, we had the boogeyman (may his soul rest in peace), I cheer & screamed whenever he got in a fight knowing he was going to kill whoever it was he was punching. The sad part isn’t really even the players who suffer afterwords. It is their family who have to take care of them & see them deteriorate.

      • hockeyflow33 - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:38 PM

        So every boxer and mma fighter has a legitimate lawsuit as well then?

      • fightingwild - Aug 5, 2014 at 7:07 AM

        Sadly yes, whenever you have a group (MMA or boxing federation) exploiting an less than fully educated individual for millions of dollars there will inevitably be lawsuits & some will be justified. I am not saying all of the athletes are uneducated but a majority are undereducated & come from poor backgrounds.

  10. illogic87 - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Broke former players trying to ruin the game for everyone else. You knew what you were getting into!

  11. stixzidinia - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    These guys weren’t “subjected” to anything. This wasn’t the Tuskegee Experiment. Good luck proving that the NHL withheld anything. I wonder how many headshots these plaintiffs played on their fellow players over the years. “Duurrrrrr, gee I never knew that it could be bad to hit somebody in the head as hard as I can. Durrrrrrr”.

    The NFL, on the other hand, actively went on a misinformation campaign in 2007 downplaying the causality between concussions and football.

  12. youngs79 - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    As long as Fighting is allowed, these lawsuits are going to keep coming.

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