NHL commissioner Gary Bettman continues to refute the link between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder that can lead to mental health issues and even suicide. Bettman made his latest statement on the matter in a 24-page letter addressed to U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut who has been critical of the NHL's position on concussions and CTE.
"The science regarding CTE, including on the asserted 'link' to concussions … remains nascent, particularly with respect to what causes CTE and whether it can be diagnosed by specific clinical symptoms," Bettman writes in the letter published by the New York Times on Tuesday.
Bettman blamed the media for creating a culture of "fear mongering" around the issue and ranted against "widely-publicized misinformation relating to a supposed causal connection between concussions and CTE."
"At bottom, the science just has not advanced to the point where causation determinations can responsibly be made," he said, adding that the NHL's stance on the matter reflects "medical consensus" that "a causal link between concussions and CTE has not been established."
"If that consensus changes, so, too, will my answers," he added.
The NHL is fighting a class-action lawsuit brought by more than 100 former players who suffered concussions and other brain injuries while playing. The plaintiffs claim they were not aware of the long-term effects of brain trauma associated with the game. The players are seeking medical care for themselves and roughly 4,300 living retired players.
In his letter to Sen. Blumenthal, argued football and hockey are very different and, thus, should not be compared in terms of injury risk. He made similar remarks in March, directly after the NFL admitted the connection between football and CTE.