Open Letter to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

OTTAWA, Nov. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - During the CMA's last general council in August 2013, physician delegates decried the worsening issue of hockey violence and adopted a resolution condemning National Hockey League (NHL) executives and owners for not moving to address violence within their sport.

As the NHL general managers are meeting today, the CMA has forwarded the following letter to Commissioner Gary Bettman.

November 12, 2013

Mr. Gary Bettman
Commissioner, National Hockey League
1251 Avenue of The Americas
New York, NY 10020

Dear Mr. Bettman,

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the national voice of Canada's doctors with 80,000 physician-members from coast-to-coast-to-coast, remains very concerned about the ongoing level of violence and intent to injure among players in the National Hockey League (NHL).

As you may know, physician-delegates attending the CMA Annual Meeting in Calgary in August overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution condemning NHL executives and owners regarding violence in the sport. In voting on this resolution and discussing it publicly, CMA members hoped that increased awareness of the serious health ramifications violence in hockey has for players might help reduce the carnage when the NHL season began.

Unfortunately, since the regular season began in October the gruesome spectacle of players suffering vicious assaults from opponents has continued unabated. As you well know, this violence has led NHL Vice-President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan to suspend 11 players for a total of 47 games and this before the season is even two months old. This concerted action is laudable, but clearly more must be done.

Canada's doctors recognize that hockey is a high-speed, exciting sport that brings with the potential for injury to those playing the game. Pucks deflect, skates catch awkwardly and high-speed collisions occur. However, Canada's doctors have an obligation to speak out on the issue of targeted violence in the game and to urge any and all steps necessary be taken to eliminate it.

With increasing awareness globally about the tragic long-term effects of concussions and head injury, should come greater understanding and effort on the part of the NHL and team owners to eliminate such injuries. The future of the greatest game in the world is at stake.

The CMA is committed to advancing this issue and would be more than pleased to meet with you to look for solutions with the NHL.

Yours sincerely,

Louis Hugo Francescutti, MD, PhD, MPH, FRCPC, FACPM, FRCPI, FRCPE
Canadian Medical Association

cc. Mr. Donald Fehr, Executive Director, National Hockey League Players' Association

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association

For further information:

Lucie Boileau, Senior Advisor, Communications and Public Outreach
Canadian Medical Association
Tel: 613-731-8610 ext. 1266
Cell: 613-447-0866


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