Carolina Hurricanes forward Ondrej Kase is returning to Raleigh to be evaluated for a possible concussion, according to team reporter Walt Ruff. While an injury like this may not always make headlines, in the case of Kase, there is a long history of head injuries to consider.
In April, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that Kase was dealing with a concussion that had held him out for weeks. He suffered the injury on March 19, and didn’t return during the regular season. He would make it back in the playoffs, suiting up in early May against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but struggled to live up to his previous level of play and was quickly moved down the lineup.
That was not his first concussion. James Mirtle of The Athletic detailed the long history Kase has with head and neck injuries, which began in just his third game in North America, while playing for the San Diego Gulls of the AHL. When that story was written, before the Maple Leafs incident and this one with the Hurricanes, the number of concussions that Kase had experienced was unknown but “plausibly into the double digits.”
After the Maple Leafs decided not to issue him a qualifying offer this summer, he ended up with the Hurricanes on a one-year, $1.5MM contract. The 26-year-old has shown an excellent ability to play strong two-way hockey whenever healthy – the problem is that he has struggled to stay in the lineup for years now. In his debut for Carolina, he played just 11 minutes and failed to register a point. If he does have another concussion, it is completely unclear how long it will keep him out.