May 21: Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters including Chris Johnston of Sportsnet after the game that Tavares is “conscious and communicating well” but will spend the night in hospital for further testing. An update came from the team in the morning when the veteran forward was discharged from hospital:
Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares has been discharged from the hospital this morning. He was thoroughly examined and assessed by the neursurgical team at St. Michael’s Hospital and the club’s medical director. He was kept overnight for observation and is now resting at home under the care and supervision of team physicians. Tavares will be out indefinitely.
May 20: The long-awaited postseason reunion of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens got off to a start that no one hoped to see. Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was forced from Game One on Thursday night just over ten minutes into the game following a serious head injury. Tavares required the use of a stretcher to leave the ice. He has been taken to a local hospital. There has been no further update as to his condition.
Tavares’ injury, while horrific, was completely unintentional. The Leafs star was checked by Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot while in transition. Montreal’s Corey Perry, following the play at full speed, skated by Tavares just as he fell to the ice. Perry’s knee struck Tavares directly in the head, launching the Hab into the air and knocking the Leaf to the ice. Toronto’s medical staff attempted to help Tavares from his prone position up to his knees, but he could not maintain his balance and fell back to the ice in a scary display of the immediate aftermath of a violent collision. The decision was made to bring the stretcher out in order to get Tavares off the ice. The captain was able to signal with a thumbs up as he exited, but this will not eliminate the fear and concern surrounding his condition.
Tavares, 30, is unlikely to return to the ice any time soon for the Maple Leafs, if at all this postseason following what was obviously a major head injury. It is a huge loss for the team, both on the ice and in the locker room. Tavares played in all 56 games for the Leafs this season, recording 50 points along the way. The anchor of the Leafs’ second line and a key piece of the top power play unit, Tavares was third on the team in scoring and second in assists. He is also Toronto’s top face-off man, enjoying a second consecutive season with career-best success at the dot with a 55.3% FOW. Tavares, of course, is also a locker room presence and an important part of the Leafs’ leadership group. Toronto will have to regroup and refocus in order to make sure that they don’t let Tavares’ loss, no matter how shocking it was to watch, cost them their first-round series.
Everyone at PHR wishes Tavares and his family the best during this frightening time.