Posted on March 11, 2011 · Posted in Brain Injury

What kind of a fool is National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman? Decide for yourself.

The New York Times reported Friday that Air Canada, which sponsors the six NHL Canadian teams, threatened to pull its support of the league if it didn’t crack down on violence on the ice.

“There have been “a number of incidents regarding head shots and concussions this past season which have resulted in widespread public concern which we share,” Air Canada said in its letter to the NHL, The Times reported. If the NHL doesn’t take action by suspending players, Air Canada said it will withdraw its sponsorship.

But that missive didn’t appear to rattle Bettman, who doesn’t seem to share Air Canada’s concerns about the safety of NHL hockey players.

Bettman has glibly said, according to The Times, that while Air Canada “is a great brand,” it is the airline’s prerogative to spend its sponsorship dollars where ever it wants — just like is is the NHL’s prerogative to use another airline. 

No, the NHL will not let the threat of losing some ad dollars force it to stop hockey players from beating each other bloody.

In fact, The Times story also talked about the incident Tuesday when Boston Bruin player Zdeno Chara pushed Montreal Canadiens player Mac Pacioretty into a stanchion. Pacioretty had to be carted off to the hospital suffering from a concussion and a fractured vertebrae.

Was Chara suspended? Of course not.

But the Montreal police are not being as cavalier as the NHL. They have launched an investigation into Chara’s assault on Pacioretty at the request of  Quebec’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions, according to The Times.   

The newspaper recently reported that one of the NHL’s most feared enforcers and fighters, the late Bob Probert, was found to have been suffering from the same degenerative brain disease that has been discovered in pro football players. 

It seems that little discovery hasn’t made Bettman give any more thought to the safety, and future health, of his players.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447