BUFFALO, N.Y. - They're proud of their place in hockey, and Sabres history, but guys like Morris Titanic are now feeling the effects of what they put on the line years and decades ago. Titanic is joined by fellow Sabre alumni Richie Dunn and Rick Vaive in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of them and seven other retired NHL players. They are suing the NHL for failing to protect players from head-related injuries.
The complaint claims the NHL actively and purposefully concealed the severe risks associated with head injuries. It reads in part:
"Despite this mounting evidence of which the NHL knew or should have been aware, the NHL took no remedial action to prevent its players from unnecessary harm until 1997 when it created a concussion program (the "Concussion Program") ostensibly to research and study brain injuries affecting NHL players."
National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman said today; "The fact is, we believe this is a lawsuit without merit. We intend to vigorously defend it. We have been extraordinarily proactive when it comes is player safety."
Former Sabre Andrew Peters is one who is watching closely. Although he is not listed on the suit, he suffers from post-concussion- like symptoms. "You look at the concerns and some of the health issues these players have, I think there's a lot of merit."
Current Sabre forward Drew Stafford says he wasn't surprised to hear about the suit. "I don't know what those players are going through, but as a fellow hockey player, I can understand."
At the end of the day, Peters feels this is not about placing blame for the past, it is about taking care of the people who built the sport. "You always have to take care of your past players, we can't be where we are today if it weren't for them."
And now, like the NFL before it, taking care of past players is a question for the courts.