The original concussion lawsuit against the NHL included 10 former players, and that number has already grown.
More than 200 players have joined, according to lawyers Steve Silverman and Mel Owens, who are at the forefront of the suit.
Owens, an NFL linebacker-turned-disability lawyer said in a phone interview Wednesday that “hundreds” of ex-NHL players are going to become part of the suit, which was filed in U.S. federal court in Washington on Monday.
“These are 10 players, but there’s hundreds of guys that, they’re in the lawsuit,” said Owens, who works for NBO Law in Beverly Hills, Calif. “They just haven’t been named yet. They’re going to be there.”
A list of the 200-plus players was not made available when requested.
Sportsnet.ca was the first to report that more than 200 players joined the effort, which began with 10 players: Gary Leeman, Bradley Aitken, Darren Banks, Curt Bennett, Richard Dunn, Warren Holmes, Robert Manno, Blair James Stewart, Morris Titanic and Rick Vaive. Former New York Islanders centre Bob Bourne announced he joined the suit shortly after it was filed.
Leeman and Vaive in recent days have politely declined comment about their involvement, deferring to Silverman and Owens, who said he did not know how many players would wind up being a part of it.
“I don’t know how many living alumni there are in the NHL that have these significant problems,” Owens said. “I don’t know that. But like in the NFL, it just matured over time. Once the players find out that, ‘Oh, there may be hope for me. I might be able to get some help and some treatment to address my quality of life issues,’ I’m sure they’ll be in contact.”
More than 4,500 former NFL players sued that league in a case that Owens said has “parallels” to this one. That settlement was worth US$765 million.
Owens said there wasn’t any recruiting being done to get more players to join the cause. He sent tweets to several former players informing them of the case beginning Monday.
“All of our business that we’ve ever done has all been by word of mouth. The players are the ones that talk amongst themselves,” he said. “Once I have knowledge as a player, like you have knowledge and like everybody else has knowledge, the word spreads. Back in the ‘60s and the ‘70s and the ‘80s the person with all the knowledge and the power were the owners. They controlled the message.”
In a statement released Monday evening, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly called the subject matter “very serious” and said the league intended to defend the case “vigorously.”