Toews admits he played with concussion symptoms


Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews maintains he was symptom-free and “felt 100 percent” when he returned to Chicago’s line-up for the playoffs after sitting out two months with a concussion.

Except now he admits he wasn’t 100 percent.

“Even if you don’t feel something and you think you’re symptom-free, there’s probably still something there that’s kind of hindering you and affecting the way your brain works,” Toews told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday. “It was just a lot of eye-movement things. My eyes didn’t track very well. They didn’t look from one target to the next very well. My balance with my eyes closed and my head turned a certain way was terrible. (There were) little things that I would think were normal because I didn’t feel something in my head.”

Toews spent last week in Atlanta at a chiropractic neurology facility where he says his problems were solved once and for all; however, the fact he played with symptoms (even if he didn’t know they were symptoms) won’t help the reputation of a Blackhawks organization that’s already faced questions about its concussion protocol.

In February, it was reported that Toews may have hidden his symptoms from the Blackhawks soon after he sustained the injury. And even in today’s concussion-sensitive era, players are going to do that.

But when Toews says, “My balance with my eyes closed and my head turned a certain way was terrible,” we can’t help but wonder if Chicago’s medical staff should have been able to identify that.

It always did seem a little curious that Toews was cleared to play just in time for the first game of the postseason.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.