St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock is displeased with the hit that sidelined his star rookie, Vladimir Tarasenko.
“It’s a blow to the head,” Hitchcock told NHL.com’s Lou Korac about the shot Tarasenko took from Colorado’s Mark Olver on Wednesday night. “Don’t care how it got there, whether it was a legit hockey play — it happens fast.
“It was a blow to the head. That was my concern.”
On Thursday, the NHL said there would be no fine or suspension for Olver.
On Friday, the Blues put Tarasenko on injured reserve, with Hitchcock telling Korac the young Russian forward has a ‘pretty severe’ facial laceration and ‘some form’ of concussion.
Tarasenko was taken to hospital on Wednesday and released in time to fly home with his Blues teammates.
He didn’t have a headache on Thursday but reportedly had one on Friday, partly why St. Louis put him on IR.
For Hitchcock, the problem with the Olver-Tarasenko hit goes beyond legality. The veteran head coach said the incident is part of a larger-scale discussion regarding young players, awareness, vulnerability and unsuspecting positions.
More, from Korac:
“Everybody says ‘well it’s a hockey play,’ or whatever. I think there’s a bigger picture for me here,” Hitchcock said. “It’s not so much Vladi, it’s all the young players.
“These are young players who are in unsuspecting situations. It just seems like there’s a lot of young players that are getting hurt because experienced players know where they can catch them in vulnerable situations That’s the part that bothers me.
“The hit is the hit. The part that really bothers me is all the young players who don’t expect to get hit and have to learn these type of lessons. [Colorado’s Gabriel] Landeskog or a Tarasenko, I’m sure there’s other ones, there’s lots of other ones and you just don’t like to see it.
“I wish there was a way that we could let the young guys play a little bit and not try to put them in unsuspecting [positions]. I don’t think in a million years he thought he would get hit in that situation.”