Quirks & Quarks

NHL targets concussion science in legal fight with players

The NHL is questioning what is known about concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Former Philadelphia Flyers' Brian Savage is one of the players suing the National Hockey League over its handling of concussions. (AP/Ed Betz)

The National Hockey League is facing a lawsuit by former players that alleges the league hid the dangers of head injuries.

In court documents the league says it's going to "probe the scientific basis for published conclusions" to "confirm the accuracy of published findings". 

The league is asking a court to force researchers at the CTE Center at Boston University to release confidential information players, concussion studies, and significantly, on findings that relate to the neurodegenerative disease known as "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy" or CTE. 

Charles Zimmerman is co-lead counsel for the former players. He says the NHL is taking a page from "big tobacco's" playbook and joins Bob McDonald to explain.

Bob McDonald also speaks with Dr. Carmela Tartaglia about what the science shows about concussions and their relationship to CTE.  She's a clinician and scientist at the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Toronto.

The NHL did not respond to requests for comment on this story. 

The photo on the left shows abundant tau tangles (dark brown dots) in the cerebral cortex in a pattern unique to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). A higher magnification image on right shows a closer view of the tangles in nerve cells. The NHL is questioning the link between concussions and CTE. ((Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy) )