By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Add Richard Blumenthal to the list of people in disbelief over NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s handling of his league’s concussion crisis. The senator from Connecticut tweeted that he is “disappointed” in the commissioner’s continued denial of links between hockey and CTE, which came in a letter from Bettman to Sen. Blumenthal that was published by the New York Times. He also said that the NHL is “in denial” about the problem.
This isn’t some low-rent jabroni or attention-starved gum-flapper in the media saying this. Sen. Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has long pushed for Congress to repeal a portion of the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which essentially ruled that the NFL and other professional sports leagues were exempt from antitrust violations. His proposed bill, called the Sustained Promotion Of Responsibility in Team Sports (SPORTS) Act, would hold leagues more accountable when it comes to their handling of issues like concussions with their players. He sent Bettman the letter that prompted the commissioner’s stunning response back in June.
As Michael Hurley noted, Bettman proved with his latest comments that he is a deft litigator but detestable human being. He may believe that the way he responded to Sen. Blumenthal’s letter will help him in future legal proceedings, but it’s actually caused lawyers to call for more testimony from the commissioner. Charles Zimmerman, lead counsel for the group of former players suing the league, told TSN that he wants “another chance” to question Bettman under oath.
Clearly, the legal battle between the NHL and its former players is far from over. It’s incredible that Bettman would get to the point where he makes Roger Goodell and the NFL look progressive.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.