Niklas Hjalmarsson

Are the Blackhawks rushing back from concussions?


Some troubling news out of Chicago today as the Blackhawks announced a trio of players — Jonathan Toews, Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson — won’t travel to California for this weekend’s games against L.A. and Anaheim.

The first two aren’t surprising. Toews wasn’t expected to travel and Montador is on IR — but the third is plenty intriguing.

See, Hjalmarsson played Thursday night against Dallas, his first appearance after missing seven games with a concussion. The 24-year-old Swede played just over 16 minutes against the Stars and his performance was described as “fine, steady” by head coach Joel Quenneville.

But Hjalmarsson leaving the team so quickly after coming back begs the question: Did he return from a concussion too soon?

The ‘Hawks faced a similar situation earlier this season with rookie center Marcus Kruger.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Kruger first suffered his concussion when Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland checked him in the head on Dec. 20. He missed one game, but returned against the Blue Jackets and endured some tough hits. His symptoms returned and he missed the last eight games.

Kruger eventually returned on Jan. 14 and has been a lineup fixture ever since.

The Hjalmarsson and Kruger incidents rekindle memories of the hit Brent Seabrook absorbed from Raffi Torres in Game 3 of last year’s opening playoff round.

The hit appeared to knock Seabrook out, but he returned to the contest…only to be held out of Games 4 and 5 after concussion tests determined he shouldn’t play. Seabrook then returned for Games 6 and 7 of the series, at which point the Blackhawks’ concussion protocol was questioned. Former NHLer Keith Primeau took major issue with how the situation was treated.

“He should not have returned to play [in Game 3],” Primeau told CBC. “It’s extremely dangerous. He’s going to need time to recover.”

“I was watching the highlights and I saw the hit and my head just dropped because it was so upsetting. And then to see him get hit again … it was just so frustrating.”

PHT Related

Did Jonathan Toews play five games with a concussion?

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit
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What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.

Flames acquire Freddie Hamilton, brother of Dougie

Freddie Hamilton
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Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.

Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.

Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.

This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.