Potentially good news and certainly terrible news on the NHL concussion front.
Let's get the nasty stuff out of the way: Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com has heard from a source that Nathan Horton, the Boston Bruins' playoff hero/inspiration during their run to the Stanley Cup, likely has played his last game of the 2011-12 season. From Haggs:
A source close to the right winger told CSNNE.com that there have been no extensive organizational conversations about shutting down Horton as of yet, but the B's concussed power forward "[won't be returning] anytime soon."
With six games left in the regular season after Tuesday night's tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning, not much time is left for Horton attempt a comeback. And it doesn't appear he will be attempting that comeback soon."[They] haven't had those discussions yet, but it's not too difficult to figure it out," the source said when asked if the B's have reached a point where it makes sense to shut down Horton for the year.
Horton suffered what was termed a "mild" concussion in a Jan. 22 game against the Philadelphia Flyers, on a Tom Sestito hit. He started skating again in early February, but was shut down after suffered concussion-related symptoms. He hasn't been back on the ice since then.
Last postseason, Horton's first in seven NHL seasons, he had 17 points in 21 games and three game-winning goals, before Aaron Rome of the Vancouver Canucks knocked him out of Game 3 in Boston with a hit to the head that cost the Vancouver defenseman four Finals games. The hit changed the tenor and tone of the series, and Horton became an inspiring figure for the Bruins, traveling with them to Game 7.
Needless to say, repeating as Cup champions just got a hell of a lot harder if Haggerty's source is on point.
Meanwhile, Washington Capitals GM George McPhee told the media before their game against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night that center Nicklas Backstrom, out since a Jan. 3 elbow from Rene Bourque (who was suspended five games), has passed another baseline test and it's up to Backstrom when he returns to the ice.
"Making sure he's in good shape and he's comfortable. It's his decision," said McPhee.
"I would've liked him in the lineup 50 games ago. Obviously he's a terrific player, but it's got to be his decision. We're not going to put any pressure on him to play. He's got to be comfortable. We're not going to put this kid at risk by telling him we need him to play, etc. He's a grown-up and he knows how he feels, and he'll make the decision as to whether he plays or not."