Commissioner fields questions about salary cap, concussions in impromptu session

CHICAGO — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expects the salary cap for the 2015-16 season to settle in around $71 million, depending on the fluctuations of the Canadian dollar.

Appearing between the first and second periods of Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night between the Anaheim Ducks and hometown Blackhawks, the commissioner said he expects it to climb five per cent from this year’s cap figure of $69 million.

Bettman also faced several questions about concussions three months after the death of former defenceman Steve Montador, 35, who was subsequently found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephelopathy — or CTE — a degenerative brain disease.

Montador played briefly for the Blackhawks and a handful of other teams during a career that spanned 10 seasons. He suffered as many as a half-dozen concussions and finished his playing days in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League before leaving the sport in 2013.

More than 70 named former players are taking part in a lawsuit against the NHL, claiming the league failed to warn them of the true dangers of repetitive head trauma.

“From a medical and scientific standpoint,” Bettman said about a possible link between concussions and CTE, “there is no evidence yet that one leads to the other.”

Chris Nowinski, co-founder of the Boston-based Sports Legacy Institute, which leads research on traumatic brain injuries in athletes, responded on Bettman’s remarks on Twitter.

“If ‘necessarily’ means ‘always,’ fine. If not, then ‘no evidence’ is untrue. We have ‘some’ pretty good evidence.”

The Associated Press

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