March 27, 2011
Just over six minutes into the Vancouver Canucks' 4-1 win at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, defensemen Dan Hamhuis(notes) and Kevin Bieksa(notes) both attempted to check Rick Nash(notes) as he carried the puck into their zone.
Bieksa connected first, sending Nash flying … right into Hamhuis, who didn't return to the game. We've seen this play out in the NFL on a weekly basis with teammates tackling the same ball-carrier; here's the hockey version:
The worst fears were confirmed after the game by Coach Alain Vigneault: Hamhuis suffered his second concussion of the season, and that "concussion protocol will be followed."
Hamhuis was concussed on Feb. 9 on a controversial hit from Ryan Getzlaf(notes) of the Anaheim Ducks, in which Getzlaf hit Hamhuis after he had released the puck; but the damage was done due to the awkward position of Hamhuis' body and his head banging off the glass.
Sunday's concussion is the fourth of Hamhuis' career. Beyond the implications for the Canucks' blue line, which has seen its share of injuries this season, Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province wonders what this concussion means for the veteran defenseman's career:
Hamhuis has said he would consider retirement if he felt he was risking his quality of life after hockey.
"If there is more [concussions] to come, I think you have to take a look at what is important," Hamhuis, the father of two, said after suffering a concussion last month. "If I ever felt like it's like putting myself at risk long term, then I'll have to step back and think about things."
Hamhuis missed five games after his last concussion. This is the second significant injury for the NHL-leading Canucks recently, having also lost center and faceoff ace Manny Malhotra to eye injuries after taking a puck to the face.
Like Malhotra, Hamhuis was an essential part of the Canucks' penalty kill, averaging 3:08 TOI per game. That unit is currently ranked third in the NHL (86.0 percent conversion rate). Something to monitor on as long as Hamhuis is out.