SAINT PAUL, Minn. – A class action was filed Tuesday in Minnesota Federal District Court against the National Hockey League. The suit was filed by the Zimmerman law firm of Minneapolis on behalf of three former NHL players, David Christian, William Bennett and Reed Larson.
The lawsuit alleges that the NHL "allowed fighting and promoted violence as a routine aspect of the game, while minimizing the head injury risks faced by its players." Further, the lawsuit contends that "the NHL conveyed its belief to players, coaches and fans that head injuries are not serious injuries…"
"Well, I think, first of all," said Lou Nanne, former Minnesota Northstar and NHL General Manager, "you have to see what is going to be the effect on fighting because there is no doubt that they are going to have to make some adjustment or some move if you want to get away with winning the suit or settling the suit and not having further suits."
Former player and now lawsuit plaintiff Reed Larson said he thinks body checks cause more damage than fighting. "A fight gets all the glamor and all the publicity and sells tickets as people will tell you and things like that, but you know, someday it will probably be gone. It will go along the wayside. Some people will miss it. Some will not, but people who have done it (violence in the game) for a living and were there for that reason, I feel bad for them because nobody seems to be taking care of them now."
Larson, who played a thousand games in the NHL as a three-time all-star for the Detroit Red Wings, the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres, has been an insurance salesman in Edina for 16 years. He said a lot of players he played with and against are "hurting, suffered a lot of injuries."
"It is not looking for the money," said Larson, "but just trying to improve pensions, make it safer and hopefully the league will receive it and be receptive as the NFL has and work on it."
According to Brian Gudmundson of the Zimmerman/Reed law firm, Tuesday's is the third such lawsuit filed against the NHL. The first was in November in Washington, D.C. The second was last week in New York City. He said it is possible that, eventually, all the lawsuits could be combined in one location.