The mood was sombre in the Montreal Canadiens dressing room after their loss to the Ottawa Senators on Friday night at the team’s rookie tournament, as the team was still reeling from the injury to Jake Evans that had him transported to hospital.
“It’s never fun,” said Will Bitten, who is also Evans’ roommate. “I didn’t really see the hit, I just saw how he hit his head on the ice and it’s always worrisome to see that happen and I hope he’s OK.”
Evans was conscious and alert when he was sent to hospital for further tests on Friday night. There is no immediate word on the extent of the injury.
“The health of our player is the only thing that matters,” said Bouchard after the game. “The good news is that he was conscious. It was a part of the game that was emotional for both sides and the people in the stands. But the focus is on our player. And we’ll make sure that he progresses. That’s always the priority, the health of our player first because the hit... it happens but we put that aside and focus on the health of our player. He’s conscious and that’s a good thing.”
“It was a game that was full of emotion.”
While Bouchard didn’t want to talk about the hit itself, other to say that he didn’t feel it was a “wild” hit, other players on the Canadiens thought there should have been a penalty on the play.
“It was dirty,” said Canadiens first-round pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi about the hit. “I don’t think it belongs in hockey.”
Although there was mostly shock as Evans laid on the ice, you could hear some banter on the ice as the medical staff looked at the injured Canadiens player.
“It’s not my role but any time someone gets hit like that, you have to be there for them,” said Bitten. “We’re a team. It’s my third year here and you need to tell them that next time you do something like that we’re going to look for you.”
It was a heated game with players like Brady Tkachuk getting involved physically including a scrum after Tkachuk’s first goal when him and Kotkaniemi got into a bit of a scrum.
The two likely weren’t talking about their experiences at the NHL Draft in Buffalo. But Kotkaniemi said it wasn’t anything to worry about.
“I was trying to get to the bench,” he said. “I told him he was in my way.”
The Senators play the Maple Leafs on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at Place Bell. The Canadiens will hold a practice on Saturday and will play the Maple Leafs on Sunday afternoon, also at 3:00.