House Dems call for NHL to reduce head injuries

House Democrats on Thursday wrote to the National Hockey League to press the organization to take steps to reduce head injuries in the sport. 

{mosads}The lawmakers pointed to studies showing the danger of head injuries due to physical contact in the normal course of a hockey game and that such hits to the head can have long-term effects like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease more commonly known as CTE. 

The Democrats pointed to internal emails from NHL officials considering changes to increase the penalty for fighting during games as a way to reduce head injuries. 

“Despite this candid discussion in e-mail of the dangers of fighting and related incidence of head injuries, the NHL continues to publicly deny a connection between head injuries and long-term complications such as CTE,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote. 

Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) joined the letter as well. 

“Given the greater awareness of the risks posed by repetitive head injuries — as well as the advancing science — the NHL must do its part to reduce the risk of head injuries and to make hockey, at all levels, a safer game,” they wrote. “We urge the NHL to take a more active role in setting clear policies that bolster player health and safety.”

They asked a series of questions on the NHL’s current policies around head injuries and about changes that could be in the works. 

The Energy and Commerce Committee has been conducting a review of concussions more broadly and holding roundtable discussions on the issue.

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