November 28, 2011
One of the truly deplorable things about the NHL's supplemental discipline process is when injuries are politicized; like, for example, hastily reporting the severity of an injury with the hope that an opposing player would be punished for it.
Since the NHL takes injuries into account when doling out punishment, the process invites it.
So before any official decision was handed out from the NHL after Milan Lucic's(notes) hit on Ryan Miller(notes) on Nov. 12, Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier declared that his goaltender had a concussion, telling the Buffalo News:
"If this hit and other types of hits like this are not suspended, we are opening up the possibility of losing goaltenders to injury," Regier said sternly. "And not just injury, but concussion. ... When I look at the position of goaltending. in a lot of ways it's not unlike quarterback in football. I feel very strongly the protection has to be provided and players committing these types of action should be punished. The last thing we need to do in the NHL is to be losing our stars to concussions on plays like this."
"And not just injury, but concussion …" in today's hockey culture, that ups the ante, especially for a player like Miller who has already battled back from a concussion in his career. This was an incendiary dare: That in a Rule 48/CTE/Quiet Room world, the NHL would dare not suspend a player concussed a goalie on a dangerous play.
The NHL took the dare, of course, and didn't hand out any punishment to the Boston Bruins or Lucic.
Fast forward to Nov. 28, and Ryan Miller finally began working out on the ice again, after battling back from … well, that's the thing. He's not sure it was a concussion anymore.
"I don't know for certain what it was. I took a good impact. It definitely felt that way. I had some symptoms in my neck and I had to wait and let that settle down."
… "I feel good symptom wise. It was more neck and something where I aggravated a disc in my neck pretty good and we had an MRI and CT-scan showing that which kind of backed that up and was the source of a lot of the tension and a lot of the discomfort. It definitely was limiting my range of motion."
"I talking to the doctors they felt it was important to let it settle down, so we let it settle down. I'm trying to improve some strength in that area, get my endurance and some strength back, and get back to where I need to be."
First: Glad Miller's feeling better.
Second: So ... was this a misdiagnosis? By the doctors? By Regier? By Miller two weeks later?
Was it simply a hasty declaration based on the available evidence? If it wasn't a concussion -- and that's where Miller seems to be leaning -- would the Sabres regret the soap-boxing?
I know people on one side of this story are fed up with the coverage of it, but going from "the last thing we need to do in the NHL is to be losing our stars to concussions on plays like this" to "I don't know for certain what it was" would seem like a rather significant shift in description.
s/t Puck Daddy reader Mo.