February 16, 2011
Anyone who watched the Toronto Maple Leafs' impressive win at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night saw Mikhail Grabovski(notes) get crushed twice by defenseman Zdeno Chara(notes): The first drawing a two-minute boarding penalty, the second sending Grabovski stumbling around the offensive zone like Charlie Sheen at a hotel ice machine.
The hits are here:
Armchair physicians around North America asked if his woozy return to the bench was indicative of a concussion. Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun asked if Grabo would have been allowed back into competition had this been the NFL instead of the NHL. Given the hypersensitivity in today's league over head injuries, it's surprising he returned (to then score the winning goal, quite brilliantly).
But Leafs GM Brian Burke told the Globe & Mail Wednesday morning that Grabovski continued playing because he did not suffer a concussion, according to the team. From James Mirtle, who wrote that "Grabovski was likely only assessed on the bench by a team trainer":
"I feel bruise in my eyes," Grabovski told AM640 after the game. "But like I tell it before, it give me more motivation to play harder."
Leafs general manager Brian Burke said today that Grabovski did not suffer a concussion during the game. "He would not have been allowed to return to play had he exhibited any symptoms of concussion," Burke said via e-mail.
Burke added that Grabovski would not need to see a specialist today given a concussion had already been ruled out.
The National Post had this info on the NHL's concussion policy:
According to the NHL's concussion management protocol: "Concussion typically results in the rapid onset of short-lived impairment of neurologic function that resolves spontaneously."
The league's protocol advises that "a player who is diagnosed with a concussion should be removed from play and should not return to play in the same game or practice."
"Ultimately, all return to play decisions are made by team doctors," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email. "They are individualized decisions."
Indeed they are. Which is why the NHL's general managers, according to David Shoalts, will look at "what immediate steps should be taken by a team's trainers and medical staff when a player is hit on the head during a game."