Injuries are a part of hockey. It’s a physical sport where 200 pound adults glide around on skates, dressed in full suits of body armour. It’s almost impossible to escape a career in the NHL without being banged up in some way.
However, not all injuries are created equal, you can rest and rehab a sprain or a strain, if a bone is broken you give it the necessary time to heal and then get back into game shape. Concussions though, are a different beast, there is no set way to recover from traumatic brain injuries, other than just giving it time and seeing how a player’s condition is. As it stands right now, three key members of the Montreal Canadiens have suffered, or are currently suffering from concussions, or post concussion ailments. The trio of Carey Price, Phillip Danault and Andrew Shaw have all suffered some form of a concussion this year, or have very recently come off a serious battle with post-concussion syndrome.
With the playoffs out of reach, and the best possible outcome for the team being a high draft pick, the Canadiens should seriously consider shutting down all three players for the remainder of the season. Price is about to start a massive eight year contract, and Phillip Danault has been developing into a steady top six piece since joining the team from Chicago, cutting down their effectiveness by letting them try to come back this year is a detriment to their own health.
Carey Price was injured at the end of February when he took a 90 mile per hour Shayne Gostisbehere shot off his head while making a save. The Habs netminder stayed in the game, which the team eventually lost in overtime anyway, and then the next day it was announced he would be out indefinitely with a concussion.
Well this was terrifying pic.twitter.com/hxrcs0nzCs— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 21, 2018
He’s recently begun skating again, and taking shots from Stephane Waite in practice, but that doesn’t mean he’s at all close to one hundred percent. Concussions are a fickle thing, in that even a seemingly harmless jolt can trigger symptoms in a player once again. Price isn’t one to just sit idly by however, he’s tried to play through serious injuries in the past, and fans know how well that went. If he’s been cleared for individual practice that’s quite fine, but there shouldn’t be any rush at all to get him back between the pipes, especially not now with the sudden resurgence of Antti Niemi.
#Habs Price says Gostisbehere’s shot would’ve “cracked my skull” if his mask didn’t do the job, and admits he was stunned by it. However, Price says a trip to the quiet room wouldn’t have necessarily revealed a concussion because symptoms didn’t arise until the next day.— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) March 16, 2018
Price will travel to Toronto with the team, but it won’t be to play. They just want him to practice with the team.
Phillip Danault is a scary case of just how easily an episode of post-concussion syndrome or symptoms can be triggered in a player. He took a Zdeno Chara slapshot to the side of the head back in January, and then was out of commission for over a month before he returned to the lineup at the end of February. Then a few weeks later an errant high stick clipped him and he was forced to leave the game, and hasn’t played since.
As a younger player who is likely going to be bigger piece in the Montreal lineup for years to come, trying to come back from a severe concussion shouldn’t be high on the list of priorities for Danault this year. Rest and recuperate, and then get ready for the next year where he’ll be counted on in a major role once again.
Finally is Andrew Shaw, who should be of the biggest concern to Marc Bergevin, as Shaw suffered what looks like another concussion. In the off-season, Shaw opened up about his battle with concussions from the previous year’s playoff series against the New York Rangers.
Against the Dallas Stars Shaw went to lay a hit on Greg Pateryn, which led to an accidental clash of heads, which rendered the Canadiens forward out cold on the ice. Seeing Shaw need a ton of assistance to get off the ice was a horrid, especially given his recent history. Shaw had just come back from a lower body injury, so this was an unfortunate incident, especially for a player that loves the physical side of the game, and being that team warrior.
This one, out of any of the currently sidelined Canadiens, should be a no-brainer for the team. His past injury record, plus the severity of this most recent incident should be all the medical staff needs to shut him down for the rest of this year.
It’s never an easy call to tell a player they’re being shut down for the season. They’re prideful and likely don’t want to be kept away from the team for any length of time. With things like concussions or other serious head trauma there shouldn’t be any argument and the utmost caution should be taken until they’re 100% symptom free.
There’s no reason to risk future years of key players’ health for a few more wins at any point, never mind in a lost season.