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Steve Montador's family plans to sue NHL: reports

The family of late former NHL player Steve Montador plans to sue the league, according to multiple reports Tuesday, after the discovery that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition that has been linked to concussions.

CTE found in brain of deceased ex-player

Former NHL defenceman Steve Montador was found dead in February. The family of the 35-year-old is planning to sue the league. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The family of late former NHL player Steve Montador plans to sue the league, according to multiple reports Tuesday, after the discovery that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition that has been linked to concussions.

Montador was found dead in February at his home in the Toronto area. The veteran of more than 600 NHL regular-season and playoff games was 35 years old.

CTE was found in Montador's brain by doctors at Toronto's Krembil Neuroscience Centre. The former defenceman had agreed before his death to donate his brain for research.

Project head Dr. Charles Tator said an autopsy showed the widespread presence of CTE throughout Montador's brain.

A lawyer for the Montador family claimed the damage was caused by hits Montador took while playing in the NHL.

"The Montador family's suspicions have been confirmed: Steve Montador's 35-year-old brain was decaying due to the head hits he endured during his NHL career," attorney William Gibbs of the Chicago-based firm Corboy & Demetrio said in a statement. "CTE has afflicted yet another young athlete and his family. It is heartbreaking that such a vibrant young man sustained such monumental brain damage while playing a professional sport."

The NHL said in a statement that the league's "thoughts, condolences and prayers remain with Steve's family and friends."

"However, we do not agree that the reports and allegations made today establish any link between Steve's death and his NHL career," the league said.

Montador played for Calgary, Florida, Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo and Chicago. He had arranged for his brain to be donated to the Krembil Neuroscience Centre upon his death.

The Sports Concussion Project has analyzed the brains of 16 athletes, with roughly half showing signs of CTE or the presence of another neurodegenerative disease.

Gibbs also represents the family of deceased former NHL player Derek Boogaard, and has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the NHL on their behalf. Boogaard's family says the league contributed to brain injuries he suffered as well as his addiction to prescription painkillers. That case is still in litigation.

The NHL is also being sued by a group of former players seeking unspecified damages and medical monitoring for neurological disorders that they say are the result of concussions during their careers. The former players argue the league had the knowledge and resources to better prevent head trauma, failed to properly warn players of such risks, and promoted violent play that led to their injuries.

With files from The Associated Press

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