Concussion problems might force Kim Johnsson to retire

kimjohnsson.jpgWhile hockey players often skate through the playoffs with all kinds of grisly injuries, one of the most troubling ailments cannot be easily corrected with surgery or even rest. Concussions are a sad reality in all violent sports, affecting not only a player’s ability to function as a hockey player but also causing dire longtime issues later in life.

So when you hear about defenseman’s Kim Johnsson’s concussion problems, it’s difficult to criticize him for pondering a slightly early retirement (Johnsson is 34 years old). Minnesota Wild beat writer Michael Russo discussed the possibility that Johnsson played his last hockey games this season with Johnsson’s agent Rick Curran. While he didn’t deny that retirement could be the answer, Curran insisted that Johnsson will need some time to decide his future … but won’t be back soon.

Russo, however, thinks this is it for the solid defenseman.

Johnsson came to the Wild with a history of concussions in Philadelphia. The only reported one he sustained in Minnesota came from the Brad May sucker-punch during the 2007 playoffs.

The Wild traded Johnsson and signed Marek Zidlicky to a three-year extension in March, in part because the team said Johnsson gave them no indication he wanted to continue playing after this season.

I’ve left a few voicemails for Johnsson, but if I had to guess, we won’t be seeing Johnsson on an NHL rink again. He’s a devoted family man, he’s made his money, so I think he’d be extremely content to turn into a full-time husband, dad.

It’s sad that Johnsson might need to hang up his skates, but as the sports world learns more about concussions, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Besides, as Russo points out, Johnsson was the final pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He’s already exceeded expectations since he was far from “Mr. Irrelevant.”

Whether he decides to retire or not, we wish Johnsson the best of luck when it comes to feeling normal again.

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    Two-for-two: Another successful coach’s challenge as Sens reverse Kane’s goal

    Dave Cameron
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    Coaches are quickly getting the hang of this challenge thing.

    Following Mike Babcock’s successful challenge in Toronto’s opening-night loss to Montreal on Wednesday, Babcock’s provincial rival — Sens head coach Dave Cameron — got it right as well, successfully reversing Evander Kane‘s would-be equalizer in the third period.

    From the league:

    At 10:34 of the third period in the Senators/Sabres game, Ottawa requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Buffalo was off-side prior to Evander Kane’s goal.

    After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

    Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Buffalo Sabres.

    The clock is re-set to show 9:32 (10:28 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

    As the league later noted, this was the first coach’s challenge under the offside scenario.

    Video: Eichel’s first career NHL goal


    Didn’t take long for Jack Eichel to make his mark at the NHL level.

    The No. 2 overall pick at this year’s draft scored his first-ever NHL goal in his first-ever NHL game on Thursday night, cutting Ottawa’s lead to 2-1 in the third period of Buffalo’s season-opener.

    Marcus Foligno and another new Sabre, Evander Kane, registered the assists on Eichel’s marker, which came on the power play.