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Steve Montador's family files lawsuit against NHL for head-related injuries

The defenseman suffered five concussions within three months during the 2011-12 season with Chicago.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The family of former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador, who was found dead in his Toronto-area home in February at age 35, has filed a lawsuit against the NHL claiming the league failed to warn players "of the reality that repetitive head trauma in the NHL can cause long term cognitive and mental health impairment," according to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.

Montador played for 13 years in the NHL during which he had several head injuries, including a major concussion in 2012 with the Hawks that eventually led to his retirement. He had 69 fights and 15 documented concussions, including five within three months during the 2011-12 season with the Blackhawks. An autopsy revealed he suffered from extensive chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The lawsuit alleges that the league has been gathering information regarding  head injuries and their effects on players while declining to warn them of those dangers.

The federal lawsuit filed with United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division alleges the NHL failed to warn Montador "of the reality that repetitive head trauma in the NHL can cause long term cognitive and mental health impairments" all while the league collected data on such trauma. The suit also alleged the failure to warn Montador was intended to "'conceal critical information' from NHL players in order to continue profiting from promoting an ‘extreme culture of violence.'"

"Like the NFL was, (the NHL) is in denial. The NHL still refuses to accept the fact that its game creates permanent, progressive brain damage," attorney Thomas A. Demetrio of Corboy & Demetrio said in a statement. "Instead, the NHL disingenuously gives its players a false sense of security by leading them to believe that repetitive head trauma in the NHL will not cause brain damage or resulting addiction or depression issues."

The firm representing Montador's family in the suit, Chicago-based Corboy & Demetrio, also represented Derek Boogaard's family when it filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL in 2013. Boogaard died due to an accidental overdose in May 2011.

Montador played for the Calgary FlamesFlorida PanthersAnaheim DucksBoston BruinsBuffalo Sabres and Hawks from 2001-12. He never played again in the NHL after his 2012 concussion, only making brief appearances in the American Hockey League and KHL.

Montador scored five goals and recorded 14 points in 52 games during the 2011-12 season with the Hawks.

On April 22, current Chicago forward Daniel Carcillo released a story and video with The Players' Tribune, where he opened up about his friend's death and shared touching details about Montador's heart-breaking final months.

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