Steve Montador's family to sue NHL due to CTE findings

The family of deceased former NHL player Steve Montador is planning on filing a lawsuit against the National Hockey League in wake of recent findings that Montador had suffered from CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative brain condition linked to multiple concussions.

The Canadian Sports Concussion Project on Tuesday released a report that read in part that "Montador's autopsy results showed the widespread presence of CTE throughout his brain. Prior to his death, Montador suffered from depression, erratic behaviour and problems with his memory."

William Gibbs, of Chicago-based Corboy & Demetrio, confirmed to ESPN.com on Tuesday morning that the firm will be filing a suit against the league on behalf of Montador's estate. Montador passed away in February 2015 at age 35.

"The Montador family's suspicions have been confirmed: Steve Montador's 35-year-old brain was decaying due to the head hits he endured during his NHL career," Gibbs said in a statement. "CTE has afflicted yet another young athlete and his family. It is heartbreaking that such a vibrant young man sustained such monumental brain damage while playing a professional sport."

Gibbs, whose firm is also pursuing a wrongful death suit against the league on behalf of the estate of Derek Boogaard, who passed away due to an accidental overdose in May 2011, said he is not immediately sure where or when the suit will be filed.

"The NHL family shares in the sorrow of one of our own losing his life prematurely, and our thoughts, condolences and prayers remain with Steve's family and friends," the league said in a statement. "However, we do not agree that the reports and allegations made today establish any link between Steve's death and his NHL career."

Before his death, Montador had agreed to donate his brain to the Krembil Neuroscience Centre for research.

"First and foremost, our family has forever lost a son, brother, uncle and father," Montador's father, Steve, said in a statement. "Many others have lost a great friend. The finding of widespread CTE in Steven's brain helps us all better understand that his brain was ravaged by disease and he was unable to control it. Through hard work and dedication, Steven achieved his big dream of playing professional hockey in the NHL. He always knew that there might be black eyes, broken bones and soft tissue injuries -- but he never anticipated that playing the game he loved would result in such devastating impairment of his brain function. CTE changed everything."