Sites around the SB Nation hockey network are examining the issue of concussions in the NHL this morning, sharing opinions and experiences on how brain injuries have affected their local team, and what, if anything, can be done about them in the future. Here at OTF, I thought it worth reviewing a few of the concussions which have impacted the Nashville Predators in recent years.
2008 Playoffs - Jason Arnott Gets Raduloved
It was supposed to be one of the great moments in franchise history. Down 3-2 late in the 3rd period, and 2-0 in the series against the Detroit Red Wings, the Nashville Predators were not only fighting for their playoff lives, but in light of all the ownership drama of the previous 12 months, the very existence of the team in Music City hung in the balance. What followed was pure magic:
We all know what happened after that Arnott goal, however - an exuberant Alexander Radulov jumped into the captain's arms, knocking him backward into the dasher, leading to a concussion which kept him out of Games 5 & 6 of that playoff series, which the Predators lost to Detroit ending their playoff run.
Interestingly, Arnott did play in Game 4, logging 17:56 of ice time with one shot on goal. With the increased awareness around concussions these days, would that have been the case?
Caroline will have more on this particular incident in a post later today.
2009 - Arnott Returns Early in Failed Playoff Drive
On March 10 2009, in a game against the Washington Capitals, Arnott took a heavy hit from Shaone Morrison which knocked him out of the lineup for almost a month, but as the close of the regular season drew near and the Predators were still trying to qualify for a playoff spot, the captain returned to action (probably sooner than he should have) and tried to lead his team back to the post-season.
In those final four games (including a stunning comeback victory at Detroit), he scored 6 goals, setting a franchise record that still stands with 33 on the season. The playoff drive fell short, however, as Nashville missed the post-season for the only time since 2003.
In the spring of 2010, Arnott lost more time to another concussion, returning in time to play the last two regular season games and the playoff series against Chicago, in which he went scoreless through the first five games before scoring twice as the Preds were eliminated in Game Six.
Frankly, it blows my mind that some fans think Arnott didn't give a strong effort here or made a good captain.
2010 - Matthew Lombardi Loses a Season
Hockey is a dangerous sport even when guys aren't trying to decapitate each other, and the October 2010 incident with Matthew Lombardi is a perfect example of how concussions can never be entirely prevented from occuring no matter what rule changes the league tries to implement.
Fans in Nashville were excited to see the Preds sign Lombardi as a free agent that summer, as he was the class of the free agent pool that year. In only his second game of the season, however, he took a hard tumble into the boards after he and Chicago forward Dave Bolland bumped shoulders.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of that injury was the uncertainty surrounding Lombardi's recovery. Might he be out a week, a month, perhaps more? Eventually that spill cost him the rest of the 2010-2011 season, and the risk that he might not return for a much longer period of time forced David Poile's hand, resulting in a trade that sent Lombardi along with Cody Franson to Toronto in a salary dump.
Since traded by Toronto back to Phoenix, Lombardi has yet to regain the level of production he attained prior to that Preds/Blackhawks game of 2.5 years ago.
2011 - Shea Weber Hit by Mark Fistric
On December 23, 2011, towards the end of a game against the Dallas Stars, Shea Weber pinched down along the boards and took a high hit from Mark Fistric:
This hit didn't result in any supplemental discipline for the Stars defenseman (something which drew criticism from Preds fans at the time), and the resulting concussion kept Weber on the sidelines for a couple weeks.
It was interesting to see how open & direct the Predators were in communicating the status of this injury:
Shea Weber is out for Wed game with a concussion sustained at Dallas. He will be evaluated on a daily basis with no timetable on his return.
--- Nashville Predators hockey communications manager Kevin Wilson via Twitter
In a follow-up to that Fistric hit, the two teams met again on January 5 and it was Jordin Tootoo who immediately challenged Fistric to a fight to answer for his crime.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Times have changed over the last few seasons, with increased concern from all parties involved regarding the treatment of concussions. Is it still considered noble for a team leader to attempt an early return to the lineup in order to support his teammates? How much information should a team share with the public regarding such injuries, and the recovery from them?
We are in uncharted waters here, and it may be a while before the interests of all the stakeholders (players, team management & ownership, medical staff, fans) resolve themselves into new standards for how concussions are handled. While that process continues, I think it's best to remember that each party is trying to make the best of an unsettled situation.
For more articles in this series, check out the following SB Nation hockey blogs today:
Hockey Wilderness (Minnesota Wild)- www.hockeywilderness.com
Mile High Hockey (Colorado Avalanche)- www.milehighhockey.com
Stanley Cup of Chowder (Boston Bruins)- www.stanleycupofchowder.com
Anaheim Calling (Anaheim Ducks)- www.anaheimcalling.com
Pensburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins)- www.pensburgh.com
Winging it in Motown (Detroit Red Wings)- www.wingingitinmotown.com
Nucks Misconduct (Vancouver Canucks)- www.nucksmisconduct.com
Second City Hockey (Chicago Blackhawks)- www.secondcityhockey.com
Habs Eyes on the Prize (Montreal Canadiens)- www.habseyesontheprize.com