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Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Rick Vaive has asked that his name be removed from a concussion lawsuit against the The National Hockey League. (File photo)

GREIG REEKIE/CNW

It is a big name, and now the man it belongs to would like it stricken from a class-action lawsuit against the NHL.

A lawyer for former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Rick Vaive has asked an American law firm leading a wide-ranging suit against the league to remove the three-time 50-goal scorer's name from list of plaintiffs.

"He was surprised by the content of the lawsuit, he thought it was related to a workers' compensation claim in California," said Trevor Whiffen, a Toronto-based lawyer who has handled Vaive's legal affairs for the past 15 years. "In those cases, claims are usually paid by a fund. He has no interest in taking legal action against the NHL."

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According to Whiffen, Vaive was approached "some time in the last 10 days" about adding his name to the action, and agreed without having seen the final text of the statement of claim.

"He didn't sign anything," said Whiffen, who only learned of the class-action suit when he read about it in the media.

Asked whether Vaive's request means he has ruled out participating in the suit at a later date, Whiffen said: "I don't think he wants to be involved."

It's not clear what the removal of a high-profile former player will mean to the suit, which has thus far attracted more than 200 plaintiffs, including Stanley Cup winner Bob Bourne, a former New York Islanders centre.

The class action is seeking unspecified damages from the league, and accuses the NHL of "fraudulent concealment" and "negligence" in withholding information from its players on the dangers associated with concussions.

Whiffen says Vaive, who the statement of claim said suffers from "cephalgia, tinnitus, light-headedness, depression, and memory loss," was familiar with the workplace compensation claims that several former players have filed in California and other states.

Mel Owens, one of the lawyers involved in the class action filed this week in Washington is a California-based lawyer who specializes in compensation cases. Neither he nor his Maryland-based co-counsel could be reached for comment.

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