Steve Montador’s family plans lawsuit against NHL

Derek Roy and Andrew Ference remember former teammate Steve Montador, who was found dead at age 35. Ference looks back on Montador's willingness to do go for others, and his selfless nature as a teammate.

The family of deceased former NHL defenceman Steve Montador is planning to file a lawsuit against the NHL after it was discovered he suffered from CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition which has been linked to concussions.

On Tuesday morning, Chicago-based lawyer William Gibbs of law firm Corboy & Demetrio confirmed to Sportsnet the firm is planning on filing the suit on behalf of the Montador estate. Gibbs said he is not yet sure where or when the suit would be filed.

Montador passed away in February of this year at the age of 35. Four days after his passing, his partner gave birth to a son.

Before his death, Montador agreed to donate his brain for research to the Krembil Neuroscience Centre.

“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,” Gibbs said in a statement. “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.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Montador’s father, Paul, released a statement:

“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 that 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.

My family and I would like to thank Dr. Charles Tator and the entire research team at the Canadian Sports Concussion Project for performing this important work. By identifying CTE in former athletes, they move closer to preventing its prevalence in the future.”

Corboy & Demetrio is also representing the Boogaard family in their wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL after Derek Boogaard passed away in May of 2011. Boogaard also suffered from CTE.

The NHL released the following statement on the pending lawsuit:

“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 the reports and allegations made today establish any link between Steve’s death and his NHL career.”

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