The family of former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador plans to file a lawsuit against the NHL after findings that he suffered from "widespread chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the disease associated with repeated hits to the head," according to the New York Times.
Montador died in February at the age of 35 after a 10-year NHL career during which he had several head injuries, including a major concussion in 2012 with the Hawks that eventually led to his retirement. His cause of death has not been made public, but symptoms of CTE include memory loss, depression and impulse control.
The disease can only be diagnosed posthumously, and has typically been associated with boxing and football. In recent years, athletes from other sports such as rugby and soccer have been found to suffer from CTE, "which is caused by repetitive blows to the head, including subconcussive hits, those that might not register as injuries." Montador is the fifth NHL player to be found with the disease, per the Times.
"The finding of widespread CTE in Steven’s brain helps us all better understand that his brain was ravaged by disease and he was unable to control it,” Montador’s father, Paul, said in a statement. "He always knew that there might be black eyes, broken bones and soft tissue injuries -- but he never anticipated that playing the game he loved would result in such devastating impairment of his brain function.”
The firm that is 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 Flames, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Buffalo 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 for 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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