Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five

Simon Gagne leaves game after Scott Hannan hit, won’t return tonight

As often as we fixate on the impact of dirty hits, the stark reality is that clean hits can cause just as much damage as ugly ones. That’s the reality we must accept when following such a violent, fast-paced sport.

That seemed to be the case when Washington Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan delivered a hard but by all accounts legal hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Simon Gagne. The check simply caught Gagne in an awkward spot as Gagne had no chance to brace himself during the fall. His head seemed to take the brunt of the impact, which is definitely a concern.

Gagne needed help getting from the ice to the locker room, but didn’t need to leave on a stretcher as many originally feared. He was reportedly alert when speaking with Lightning medical staff but won’t return during Tampa Bay’s in-progress Game 1. Versus reports that he’ll be re-evaluated on Saturday.

It’s a scary situation for any player, but it’s especially worrisome for Gagne. He fought off some neck problems in 2010-11, most notably missing 18 games in the early portion of the season with those issues. The biggest worry might be his history of concussions, though; his 2007-08 season was cut short in February ’08 because of head injuries.

The good news is that Gagne was moving and coherent after the hit, but I would expect him to miss at least another game if not more with this injury. You really never know with these types of situations, though, so we’ll keep you updated.

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Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Montreal Canadiens v Minnesota Wild
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Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.