Family of Dead Hockey Star Takes Aim at NHL

     CHICAGO (CN) – The family of professional athlete found dead at home earlier this year announced plans to sue the National Hockey League, saying Steve Montador’s autopsy confirms the “widespread presence” of concussion-related brain damage.
     Dozens of families of former NHL players have sued the league, claiming that it did not inform players about the risks concussions play in causing the degenerative brain condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can be diagnosed only in an autopsy.
     Montador was a defenseman who last played in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks. In February 2015, he was found dead in his home at age 35.
     The Chicago law firm of Corboy & Demetrio released a statement from Montador’s family on Tuesday, announcing that the Canadian Sports Concussion Project in Toronto had examined Montador’s brain and found “widespread presence” of CTE.
     He is the fifth NHL player with a confirmed presence of CTE, which can only be confirmed upon death.
     “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,” Corboy & Demetrio attorney William Gibbs said in the 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.”
     Gibbs also represents the estates of late NHL player Derek Boogaard, NFL veteran Dave Duerson and former San Francisco 49er Forrest Blue, all of whom suffered from CTE.
     Montador’s family is expected to file its own lawsuit against the NHL shortly.
     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.

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