Leaked Emails Throughout NHL Paint Black Picture for League in Concussion Controversy

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman listens as he meets with reporters after a meeting with team owners, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in New York.  The current collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players expires Saturday at midnight.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

In the latest developments of the huge lawsuit between former NHL players who were victims of concussion symptoms and the National Hockey League itself, the Globe and Mail – a Canadian news source – released a plethora of leaked emails that circulated throughout the League for the past couple years regarding their concussion issues, including illegal hits and fighting in hockey, which remains a controversial debate today.

What was written within the emails ranged from a hint of optimism to very damning evidence of the League’s stubborn refusal to pull hockey out of the Dark Ages, so to speak. Perhaps the most damning pieces of email exchanged were by the Head of the Department of Player Safety, Colin Campbell, who – all-in-all – is still living in the 80’s and 90’s in his mind.

Take a look at these emails and judge for yourselves.














Not only does his spelling and grammar need work, but he needs work on his professionalism as well. I mean, a lot of it was very unprofessional. For one, he thinks that illegal hits and concussions should still be part of the game and that those who complain about getting hurt should suck it up. And two, how dare he suggest that a tax/estate planner and die-hard hockey fan should just stick to their job and essentially just stay away from hockey. I mean, to me the way he worded it is the equivalent of saying, as politely as possible, “shut the hell up and stay away from hockey because you are wrong and clearly have no idea what you’re talking”. This is how you lose fans, Campbell.

There were also others involved, including that of TSN Insider Bob McKenzie, who via TSN issued his public apology:

I have known for some time that it’s possible a number of my emails could be made public. That has caused me many sleepless nights as well as a great deal of discomfort, embarrassment and regret.



I obviously did not anticipate at the time that what I believed to be private correspondence would end up in the public domain. Yet I also have, for some time since then, fully recognized the perils of using company email as it pertains to privacy, or lack thereof.



I obviously have to take full responsibility for the emails I’ve written. That said, I don’t feel the need to publicly address or comment on any of the specifics within those emails, other than to say I’ve taken the necessary step in the past months to make amends, so to speak, with anyone who I feel was impacted negatively by these emails and I will continue to do so, as required.



Beyond that, I will have no further comment.

As well as this, which is probably the second most revealing email aside from the Campbell ones:


Aside from all the negatives, there is one positive, and that’s from former Vice President of DoPS, Brendan Shanahan. From all of the emails he wrote, here are a few voicing his opinion to ban fighting:

ShanahanEmail2.png_Page_1ShanahanEmail1 ShanahanEmail2.png_Page_2


So, on the bright side, there are people in the League who are willing to say that the League isn’t totally blind to all the concussion issues they’ve been facing, despite what commissioner Gary Bettman may have been implying before. The only question is will they finally accept responsibility and apologize to previous victims of concussion symptoms who’d played in the NHL?

Certainly, this isn’t as bad as the NFL, where apparently the League isn’t doing much about their concussion issues and the officiating is absolute crap, worse than the NHL. In fact, ironically, at one point the NHL asked Mike Pereira, now-former Vice President of Officiating in the NFL, for guidance on rules against “head shots”, probably because the NFL has been hit with the same kind of lawsuit.


However, in my opinion, more needs to be done for people, sports fans and hockey fans alike to be able to start taking this League much more seriously in terms of preventing head shots and other illegal cheap hits. I get it. Hockey’s a physical sport. Obviously, back then you’d have guys giving out severe blows and hits to the head like candy on Halloween. Back it then, you toughened it out if you still wanted to be in the line-up and skating out there. But that was back then. This is a new era. It’s a much faster game. It’s still physical. However, we don’t want or need people who constantly throw cheap shots at other players, and the League certainly needs to toughen up their rules so that the repeat offenders either start playing hockey like it’s meant to be played these days or pack their bags and go elsewhere.

As far as the emails go, it certainly doesn’t look good for the NHL. I would expect if anything drastic gets done before the centennial season in 2017-18, Colin Campbell should step down from the Department of Player Safety, because he’s clearly not good for the game. I might also think about replacing a few other people who’ve tarnished the League’s reputation. As for Gary Bettman, I know he signed an extension exactly two months ago today, but he needs to watch out if he knows what’s good for him and the National Hockey League.

There is a searchable database from the email dump provided by the Globe and Mail. If you’re curious to view other emails, here they are. You’ll have to scroll down below the actual article.


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