When Marcus Kruger was removed from the game yesterday by the league’s new concussion protocol, he wasn’t happy. The Chicago Blackhawks forward was forced into the dressing room in the second period of last night’s 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks, only to play again in the third. Today while speaking to reporters, he said that he’d rather decide for himself if he needs to be taken out – which is exactly what the protocol is in place to prevent.
Even though Kruger was cleared to come back, and hadn’t suffered a concussion, it’s not easy for a player to be able to make the correct decision on whether or not his brain has been affected. The league will continue pulling players from the ice (as they did with Maple Leafs rookie Mitch Marner on Tuesday night) regardless of whether or not they’ve suffered a concussion. If it prevents even a single player from heading back onto the ice in a vulnerable state, it’s worth it. For a reminder of what concussions can do, just read the recent article on Marc Savard in the Boston Globe.
- In another injury note, though not related to concussions, Jonathan Toews is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and didn’t take part in the Blackhawks’ practice today. When asked, head coach Joel Quenneville said that his captain is questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Ducks. The two teams will square off in the afternoon before the Hawks have to play Los Angeles the following night.
- Scott Powers of the Athletic points out that the Blackhawks have been fairly healthy this season, and many of their prized prospects are still waiting on a callup. Last season, the Hawks had recalled seven players by this point for at least a taste of NHL action while this year they have brought no one up. As prospect Mark McNeill puts it: “You just keep focusing on what’s going on here and working on your game. You can’t control whether there’s an injury or not or a recall or not. You just got to keep focus and keep working hard.” No word on whether the team will call someone up to replace Toews this weekend.