The family of the late NHL defenseman Steve Montador will sue the league after he was discovered to have a brain trauma. Montador passed away in Feb. 2015 at the age of 35.
Steve Montador's family is suing the National Hockey League (NHL).
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ESPN's Katie Strang confirmed the Montador family's plan of filing a lawsuit against the NHL in her May 12 update after he was discovered to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), "a neurodegenerative brain condition linked to multiple concussions."
Strang obtained a copy of The Canadian Sports Concussion Project's report which reads "Montador's autopsy results showed the widespread presence of CTE throughout his brain. Prior to his death, Montador suffered from depression, erratic behaviour and problems with his memory."
Montador's estate has tapped the services of Chicago-based Corboy & Demetrio to file the lawsuit. William Gibbs, who represents the said law firm, issued a statement to ESPN confirming Montador's precarious brain health prior to his death in Feb. 2015 at the age of 35:
"The Montador family's suspicions have been confirmed: Steve Montador's 35-year-old brain was decaying due to the head hits he endured during his NHL career. CTE has afflicted yet another young athlete and his family.
"It is heartbreaking that such a vibrant young man sustained such monumental brain damage while playing a professional sport."
Gibbs told Strang on Tuesday he is not sure about the exact timeline of the lawsuit. Corboy & Demetrio is also filing a wrongful death suit against the NHL on behalf of Derek Boogard's estate, per ESPN.
Boogard, a former Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers left wing, died in May 2011 due to an accidental overdose, per Strang.
Montador's father, also named Steve, issued a statement obtained by ESPN which explains how CTE affected his son's NHL career:
"First and foremost, our family has forever lost a son, brother, uncle and father. Many others have lost a great friend. The finding of widespread CTE in Steven's brain helps us all better understand that his brain was ravaged by disease and he was unable to control it.
"Through hard work and dedication, Steven achieved his big dream of playing professional hockey in the NHL. He always knew there might be black eyes, broken bones and soft tissue injuries -- but he never anticipated that playing the game he loved would result in such devastating impairment of his brain function.
"CTE changed everything."
Strang also obtained a statement from the National Hockey League regarding Montador:
"The NHL family shares in the sorrow of one of our own losing his life prematurely, and our thoughts, condolences and prayers remain with Steve's family and friends.
"However, we do not agree that thre reports and allegations made today establish any link between Steve's death and his NHL career."
Montador is the fifth former NHL player to have CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death, per The New York Times' John Branch. The other former players are Reg Fleming, Bob Probert, Rick Martin and Boogard.
The unconscious body of Montador was discovered in his Mississauga, Ont. home on Feb. 15, 2015, per The Canadian Press (via SportsNet). No foul play was ruled at the time of his death.
Montador suffered several concussions during his 11-year NHL career. He also told CSN Chicago (via SportsNet) he battled depression back then:
"I can see why people have a hard time with a number of different things and being taken away from something they love to do and not sure if you'd ever get back the chance. There's a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety and depression that comes with that."
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp told The Canadian Press (via SportsNet) back in February that Montador was a great leader when they were teammates in the latter's last season in 2011-12:
"He was a leader in the locker room. He did a lot for the union on our team, and then league-wide. He was friendly with everybody and a great teammate. It's really disappointing to hear to hear the news before the game.
"We're going to support each other, support his family and all of his friends, and get through it."
Montador's partner gave birth to a baby boy four days after he died, per SportsNet. Before he passed away, he gave his consent to have his brain donated to the Krembil Neuroscience Centre for research.
Montador suited up for the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks in an NHL career that spanned from 2001-12.
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