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He Made His Living as an NHL Fighter. Now, the Lawsuit

Widow of Todd Ewen sues league, says CTE led to her husband's suicide
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2019 11:10 AM CDT
Screenshot from a video documentary about Todd Ewen, from the "Atlantic."   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Todd Ewen was the classic NHL "enforcer" during his 11 seasons in the league. Translation: He "fought in almost every one of his games," writes Nicolas Pollock in the Atlantic. The sad footnote: Ewen committed suicide in 2015 at age 49. His widow, Kelli, blames the NHL, saying that he suffered brain damage—chronic traumatic encephalopathy—from all those fights because the league encouraged the violence and disregarded the risks to players. She has just filed suit. The details:

  • The suit: "To this day, the NHL continues to downplay and deny the long-term neurocognitive effects of repeated head hits and the link between head hits and CTE, leading former NHL players to believe that the neurocognitive symptoms they suffer from are not a result of their head hits during their time in the NHL," asserts the suit, per NBC News.
  • The denial: The suit seems to be correct in characterizing the league's position. Last week, Commissioner Gary Bettman questioned a direct link between CTE and repeated blows to the head when speaking before a parliamentary panel in Canada, reports Sportsnet. "I don't believe there has been, based on everything I've been told—and if anybody has information to the contrary, we'd be happy to hear it—other than some anecdotal evidence, there has not been that conclusive link." In the hearing, Bettman pushed back against the idea of banning head contact in the NHL.

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