Bettman: Player safety isn’t that important

This morning, to the shock of many (sarcasm) Gary Bettman shoved his proverbial foot in his mouth. Bettman made a statement that was reported by Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun that was related to the concussion issues that are surfacing.

I swore we lived in the 20th century but I guess not according to the commissioner of the NHL. Now physicality is part of the sport and it shouldn’t be taken away but this is a different beast. This sounds like the NHL trying to separate themselves from any liability when it comes to the repercussions of continuous concussions.

The real question that lies is, is it true? Are the links from head hits to CTE inconclusive.

CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy defines as – Here’s the full link to read more

According to the Boston University CTE Center, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. Most of what we have learned about CTE has come from the research of Dr. Ann McKee, director of the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, who has revolutionized our understanding of CTE.  In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. CTE has been seen in people as young as 17, but symptoms do not generally begin appearing until years after the onset of head impacts. (Concussion Legacy, 2018)


In a study published in The Brain: The Journal of Neurology in February of 2018, found that repetitive head hits – ones that don’t cause concussions – actually seemingly cause more longterm damage than the ones diagnosed as concussions. Results showed that the hits that usually go undiagnosed or show no signs of any brain trauma are the main cause of CTE.

Here is a glimpse into the studies results: Here is the full study link

We examined post-mortem brains obtained from teenage contact sport athletes who died in the acute-subacute period (1 day–4 months) after closed-head impact injuries and compared results to control brains from an age-matched control cohort of contact sport athletes without recent head injuries. Neuropathological analysis revealed a spectrum of post-traumatic pathologies, including astrocytosis, axonopathy, microvasculopathy, neuroinflammation, and phosphorylated tauopathy. The presence of haemosiderin-laden macrophage, reactive astrogliosis, and perivascular microgliosis is consistent with traumatic microvascular injury, blood–brain barrier disruption, and secondary neuroinflammation (Cherry et al., 2016Jullienne et al., 2016Kenney et al., 2016McKee et al., 2016). Notably, two of four brains showed evidence of phosphorylated tauopathy and one case qualified for neuropathological diagnosis of early stage CTE (McKee et al., 2016). Clinicopathological correlation suggested mechanistically causal linkage between early CTE brain pathologies, including phosphorylated tauopathy, and antecedent closed-head impact injury (Goldstein et al., 2012McKee et al., 2013Kondo et al., 2015Kenney et al., 2016). (The Brain: Journal of Neurology, 2018)

This proves a link between “head hits” and CTE. Linkage proves that even the smallest of head contact can have serious ramifications on your future mental health and even now. The lead researcher on this study Dr. Lee Goldstein puts it this way.

“We’ve had an inkling that subconcussive hits — the ones that don’t [show] neurological signs and symptoms — may be associatedwith CTE,” says Dr. Lee Goldstein, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine and the lead investigator on the study. “We now have solid scientific evidence to say that is so.”

And this evidence, he says, leaves researchers “terrifically concerned.” (National Public Radio, 2018)

he continues…

“The concussions we see on the ballfield or the battlefield or wherever — those people are going to get attention,” Goldstein says, “because it’s obvious they’ve had some sort of injury. We’re really worried about the many more people who are getting hit and getting hurt — their brain is getting hurt — but are not getting help because we can’t see the evidence on the outside that their brain is actually hurt. It’s a silent injury.” (National Public Radio, 2018)

Finally, Dr. Goldstein and Legacy Concussion Director Chris Nowinski want to be clear on something.

“I want to be very clear on this,” Goldstein says. “This is in no way to minimize concussions.” (National Public Radio, 2018)

“We’re not taking concussions out of the equation,” Nowinski says. “Concussions are still very bad.” They can still cause acute brain injury that leads to long-term symptoms, he says, independent of whether they spark a neurodegenerative disease. (National Public Radio, 2018)

“We still have to respect and address [concussions], even more than we have in the past.” (National Public Radio, 2018)

For Gary Bettman to even insinuate that there is no link between head hits and CTE is quite embarrassing for the NHL and where they’ve come from. This study proves and it’s just one of many that even head hits in repetition – and not being concussions – have long-lasting effects on the brain and that effects how players live long after this game is done.

The NHL has taken a stance on headshots and trying to get intentional first-contact with the head out of the game. But the Gary Bettman’s comments one must wonder just how much they’re committed to that if it costs them some money. Player Safety is seemingly becoming quite a joke under the reign of Gary Bettman and players are paying the price. Just ask Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and many more who put themselves on the line for the NHL every night…..wait we can’t and how sad is that.

The link for the full article where most of the quotes came from will be left at the bottom of this article. If you want more info on CTE and the links with repetitive head hits and concussions – take a full read of the study done by Dr. Goldstein – it has been linked above.

Here is the full article by National Public Radio and Tom Goldman

Leave a Reply