TORONTO – Don Cherry had two words to describe a lawsuit against the NHL from players who said they suffered concussions—money grab.
The hockey personality criticized the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. federal court in Washington on Monday, during his Coach’s Corner segment on Saturday’s “Hockey Night in Canada.”
The original lawsuit included 10 former players, but that number has already grown to more than 200 players, according to lawyers Steve Silverman and Mel Owens.
“I feel sorry for the guys, you know some of the guys maybe got whacked a little, but it’s a money grab as far as I’m concerned,” said Cherry.
“All of a sudden 200 guys. Guys played 14 games, 15 games, and they said they didn’t know the dangers going into the National Hockey League. Absolutely ridiculous. Money grab, as far as I’m concerned.”
The original players named in the lawsuit include Gary Leeman, Bradley Aitken, Darren Banks, Curt Bennett, Richard Dunn, Warren Holmes, Robert Manno, Blair James Stewart, and Morris Titanic.
Former New York Islanders centre Bob Bourne announced he joined the suit shortly after it was filed, while ex-Toronto Maple Leafs captain Rick Vaive asked that his name be removed from the lawsuit.
“The big thing is it’s an insult to me,” said Cherry. “I coached in the American League, I coached in the National Hockey League, do you think I would let a guy go on (the ice) if a doctor came to me and said he shouldn’t play? That’s absolute nonsense.
“It’s a disgrace to say that I would do that. … As far as I’m concerned it’s a money grab.”
The lawsuit comes after more than 4,500 former NFL players sued that league in a similar case that resulted in a settlement worth US$765 million.
In a statement released Monday evening, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly called the subject matter “very serious” and said the league intended to defend the case “vigorously.”