Minnesota sophomore Mikael Granlund’s had a tough go of things this season, missing extensive time with a concussion caused by a pair of big hits.
Now, Wild head coach Mike Yeo is hoping to teach Granlund about how to better protect himself on the ice.
“There’s certain situations where you can learn to protect yourself in and there’s times where, especially in this league, that you can’t get away with some of the things that you were getting away with in other leagues,” Yeo explained, as per the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “You have to be careful, too. One of the things that makes [Granlund] great is the way he competes, and I think he’s done a great job going to the middle of the ice and creating a lot more offense because of that.”
Granlund, 21, was off to a solid start this season, scoring 12 points in his first 24 games. But he was sidelined after taking a high hit from Toronto’s Nazem Kadri on Nov. 13 and, upon his return, lasted exactly one shift before getting re-concussed on a hit from Phoenix’s Connor Murphy.
Minnesota was forced to shut down Granlund for a while and he’s essentially been inactive for 12 games in a row (he has recently resumed skating, though). Yeo said the Finnish forward will be a wiser player upon his return… but will still display the same grit and tenacity that saw him go ninth overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
“We have to make sure we’re helping him in many areas in many ways as far as how he can protect himself,” Yeo explained. “At the same time, you have to make sure you bring that competitive edge, too.”
“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”
In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.
One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.
Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?
Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).
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