If you were expecting the pissed-off, suffering army of players that brought the class-action lawsuit against the NHL — claiming negligence with the league’s appreciation and handling of head injuries throughout their careers — to rise up as one in the lead up to Gary Bettman’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, well, think again.
According to a Forbes report, the two sides are on the verge of reaching a settlement worth $18.9 million — with a $6.9 million slab of that money expected to be funnelled into the players’ pockets.
That means after two years of posturing, investigation and conflict, and for all that the players say they have suffered in their post-playing careers, the victims and those directly involved will net just $22,000, each.
Very much a reflection of Bettman’s legacy, the NHL commissioner has wielded his power and influence to great effect once again. This victory here is undeniable.
Not only does he secure a resolution to the lawsuit and controversy in the mere hours before he’s celebrated for all he’s done to grow the game, but it will cost the league pennies in the grand scheme of things.
Between the Vegas Golden Knights and incoming Seattle franchise, Bettman will have injected in excess of $1.15 billion into the league’s revenue stream over a five-year stretch through expansion alone.
But as timely as it is, Bettman will not be able to strut into the Hall of Fame having washed his hands completely clean of one of the most significant controversies surrounding his tenure. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman notes that the pending agreement shouldn’t be called a “settlement” yet, as it will be up to the individual players to opt in.
Still, the writing seems to be on the wall for those who felt mistreated by the NHL during their careers and into retirement.
Bettman’s impetus to come to an agreement should have been no stronger than it has been in the days before his enshrinement.
That was good for $22,000 a pop.
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