n the 1950s, tobacco companies responded to research proving a link between smoking and lung cancer by trying to discredit the science. They formed their own research group to poke holes in the data and to stave off public panic that cigarette smoking could cause serious diseases and death.
More than 60 years later, the N.H.L. has responded to a class-action lawsuit regarding head injuries with a similar approach.
The suit, brought by former players and their families, claims that the league hid the dangers of head injuries. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages.
It now looks as if the N.H.L., which makes about $4 billion a year, has chosen to go after the science behind the brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E. It’s late to this game. Even the N.F.L. — a longtime and loud naysayer that blows to the head cause C.T.E. — has acknowledged the link.