One of the primary reasons Carl Hagelin of the New York Rangers was given a 3-game suspension by the NHL for his Game 2 elbow to the head of Daniel Alfredsson was because the Ottawa Senators captain left the game with an injury — and, subsequently, because Brendan Shanahan and the Dept. of Player Safety were told by the Senators team physician that the injury was a concussion.
Alfredsson confirmed that on Monday morning after the Senators' skate before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal; immediately, the dire consequences and prolonged absences for brain injuries came flooding to mind.
That is, until his coach revealed Alfredsson passed a baseline test and is a game-time decision for Game 3.
Ottawa coach Paul MacLean would not reveal his lineup but said Alfredsson has passed the required baseline test. Alfredsson skated with his Senators teammates on Monday morning at Scotiabank Place and said he is a game-time decision for Game 3 (7:30 p.m., MSG) with the series knotted at 1-1.
"Yesterday was better than Saturday night," Alfredsson said here at his locker Monday morning. "I did a bike ride yesterday and felt pretty good throughout the day, was active at home with the kids, felt pretty good this morning, so the next step obviously was to skate today, this morning, and see how I feel after."
Now, Alfredsson is one of the most respected veterans in the NHL. Bar none. He's a former Lady Byng finalist who's broken 50 penalty minutes in a season just once. Whatever the Swedish word for "sportsmanlike" is, it should be affixed to his name.
The notion that he would embellish an injury is farfetched, especially when you consider the Senators needed him late in their game against the Rangers and he never returned. That said, the emotions and controversy tied to the Hagelin suspension will raise some ire among Rangers fans as they watch Alfredsson go from concussed to a possible return in Game 3. It's not justifiable outrage, because brain injuries can be a matter of hours or months; but it's understandable outrage, given the context.
The official line from the NHL and Dept. of Player Safety head Brendan Shanahan is that the duration of Alfredsson's injury wasn't a factor in the suspension to Hagelin. From his interview on WFAN in New York on Monday:
"They told me there's a possibility that he would. I did not make the suspension thinking that Alfredsson was done for the series."
For those who think the Senators might have trafficked in some injury politics for the suspension, Shanahan also mentioned that Mark Aubry is a team physician for the Ottawa Senators, along with being the chief medical officer of the International Ice Hockey Federation and a member of the NHL's concussion working group.