A prominent U.S. Senator isn't buying Gary Bettman's defense of the NHL's response to head trauma.
In a letter released on Monday, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) slammed Bettman's continued refusal to link concussions to brain disease and his resistance to efforts to further study the ongoing problem.
“Your apparent current indifference is a disservice to fans and players,” he wrote.
Blumenthal also claimed that the league's "failure to take a safety issue seriously could have ramifications for players at every level, seriously affecting public health."
The NHL, he added, needs to show “a more serious, sustained commitment to players’ safety and health. To honor the sport and its players, I urge you to establish a foundation to support independent, impartial research and understanding about the science of head trauma and brain disease later in life, vigorously working to uncover the truth rather than degrading science and the game."
Bettman, he says, has an obligation to put the NHL "on the right side of history and health."
The letter is the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between the two men. Blumenthal first wrote to Bettman in June, asking the commissioner to explain the league's position on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the game of hockey.
"It is clear from the deaths of six former NHL players—Derek Boogaard, Reg Fleming, Bob Probert, Rick Martin, Steve Montador, and now Larry Zeidel—whose brains have been determined to contain evidence of CTE, that the risks are certainly real," Blumenthal wrote.
Bettman responded with a 24-page rebuttal in July that questioned the link between hockey-related head trauma and the brain disease.
“The science regarding CTE, including on the asserted ‘link’ to concussions that you reference, remains nascent, particularly with respect to what causes CTE and whether it can be diagnosed by specific clinical symptoms,” Bettman said.
Blumenthal is the ranking member of the Senate's consumer protection committee which, among other things, oversees professional sports.