NHL's player safety department expands to address hits, health

After the NFL's concussion lawsuit settlement with retired players last week, ESPN asked what the NHL is doing in terms of brain injuries for current and retired players. Stories abound about numerous NHL players who have retired because of post-concussion symptoms.

The NHL said that in response, it has expanded the player safety department, which includes former players Brendan Shanahan and Brian Leetch and ex-scout Patrick Burke.

Shanahan has been the NHL's senior vice president of player safety for the past two years. He already has gained a reputation for being strict when it comes to fines and suspensions for dangerous play.

Leetch was brought in for his knowledge of nuances of the game and Burke for his technical expertise. Together, they will tackle player health and safety, which has taken on greater importance with superstars like Sidney Crosby and Marc Savard sustaining concussions that affected their careers.

However, the league is facing at least one lawsuit. It's a wrongful death suit brought by the family of Derek Boogaard, who died because of an overdose of painkillers two years ago.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Star published a Sunday editorial in which it said it hoped the NFL's concussion settlement would spur the NHL to curb its violence.

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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