Cale Makar to miss at least 2 Avalanche games with head injury; NHL declines supplemental discipline for Jeff Carter hit in Pittsburgh

Feb. 9—TAMPA, Fla. — Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar will miss at least the next two games with a head injury stemming from an unpenalized collision with Penguins forward Jeff Carter.

Makar did not participate in morning skate Thursday ahead of a Stanley Cup rematch against Tampa Bay at Amalie Arena. Coach Jared Bednar said Makar has left the team's current road trip and will not play against the Lightning or Saturday against the Panthers.

Makar, who crumbled to the ice Tuesday after Carter's right shoulder brushed his head, returned to the game and spoke with reporters after passing concussion protocol. But Makar's condition worsened in the following days.

"All (head injuries) are different," Bednar said. "He passes a test, feels good, wants to go out back and play. Everything looks good as he gets evaluated during the game. But the next morning, he didn't feel very well. He obviously hasn't been on the ice in the last couple of days. So, we've got to give him some time."

Makar was visibly unhappy after the Pittsburgh loss calling the hit "blindside" and adding: "The ref said apparently we ran into each other, but I don't know how that's possible. He was coming down the ice."

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Makar wasn't alone in that opinion.

"(Carter) skated right through his head," Bednar said Tuesday night. "That's what I saw."

Despite the ugly optics of the collision, and Makar's significant injury, there was no penalty called on the ice. The NHL's department of player safety has also declined supplemental discipline for Carter. Bednar did not discuss the play with officials during the Penguins game, however, the team's front office has since contacted the league.

"I don't know about the discipline part of it," Bednar said. "But I felt like that's one of the things that they're trying to get out of the game. He obviously clips him in the head. I would have liked to see a penalty called on the play, at a minimum. I don't know if they saw it. You have to see it at the right angle in order to do that. ... The league has looked at it and deemed that there's no supplementary discipline, which is fine. We're more concerned about his health at this point."

The Avalanche will rely heavily on defenseman Sam Girard and Bowen Byram in Makar's absence. Byram recorded in assist in his first game back Tuesday from a three-month injury absence (lower body). Girard has been phenomenal since the calendar turned to 2023 with eight assists, most among Avalanche defenseman over that span.