NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman continues to bury his head in the sand when it comes to concussions and their link to CTE, and now a U.S. Senator is calling him out for it.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is a ranking member on the Senate subcommittee for Consumer Protection, which is responsible for overseeing professional and collegiate sports. As a part of his duties on this committee, Blumenthal sent Bettman a letter of inquiry with nine questions about the link between hockey, concussions, and CTE. Bettman sent his reply via a U.S. District Court filing on Wednesday. The senator read the commissioner’s 24-page response and was not happy with what he found.

“I was surprised and appalled, because I thought the response would be more receptive,” Blumenthal told SI.com via telephone from Philadelphia. “I would’ve welcomed an acknowledgement for stronger action and a commitment to determining whether the game is causing these heartrending injuries with such painful consequences, rather than dismissing the link between hockey and CTE.”

The NHL’s head man is apparently still in the dark ages when it comes to concussions. Even the NFL has acknowledged the link between head injuries and CTE — a fact mentioned in Blumenthal’s initial June 23 letter to Bettman — yet the NHL refuses to acknowledge the link between the two. Blumenthal minced no words when asking Bettman if he believed hockey could lead to CTE in his nine-question inquiry, to which the commissioner offered an evasive reply.

The first of Blumenthal’s nine requests to Bettman asked, point-blank, if the commissioner believed in “a link between CTE and hockey.” Much of Bettman’s reply is spent countering this assertion through various medical studies, articles, and testimonies. “At bottom,” Bettman writes, “the science just has not advanced to the point where causation determinations can responsibly be made … If that consensus changes, so, too, will my answers.”

You can read Bettman’s full response here.

Blumenthal also took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with Bettman’s response.

The NHL, like the NFL, is currently embroiled in its own concussion-related lawsuit from former players, and TSN reports Bettman’s written response could be used by the legal team representing those players against him and the league.

Bettman is already losing the PR war with this letter, and it might cost him in the legal war too.

[Sports Illustrated]

About Ben Sieck

Ben is a recent graduate of Butler University where he served as Managing Editor and Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Butler Collegian. He currently resides in Indianapolis.