ST. PAUL, Minn. — Long after the end of his NHL career, Steve Payne is living an empty-nest life with his wife and three dogs in western Wisconsin.

There is one problem: His brain has aged about a decade ahead of his body.

“I’ve been examined by several experts and they’ve come to the same conclusion – that I am starting to show the signs and the symptoms of multiple concussions,” said Payne, who played for the Minnesota North Stars from 1978-88. “So it has started to cause some dysfunction for me. I’m 57 years old and I’m at a level of someone in his late 60s.”

Payne is one of the 105 former NHL players who have joined the class-action lawsuit against the league, alleging it had the resources to better prevent head trauma, failed to properly warn players of such risks and promoted violent play that led to their injuries.

The case, which was consolidated from several similar complaints in August 2014, has inched through the federal court system in Minnesota with no resolution expected soon. The timeline for arguments on class certification is spelled out through May 19, 2017.

The plaintiffs’ primary request is medical monitoring for the roughly 4,800 living former players, plus additional unspecified relief. There is no dollar figure on the lawsuit, but the NFL’s pending $1 billion concussion settlement with retired players could give a benchmark.

Payne and his fellow plaintiffs have heard the assumptions, naturally, that the case is a cash grab to compensate for the lesser salaries they earned during their playing days.

“I personally hope the NHL doesn’t have to spend a dime on me,” Payne said. “That means that I haven’t suffered like a lot of the other guys have and are going to.”

The 133-page complaint is packed with anecdotes of former players suffering from a variety of conditions.

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