Earlier this month, we wrote about Columbus head coach John Tortorella taking issue with the NHL’s concussion protocol.
Now, another vocal critic — Arizona goalie Mike Smith.
In the third period of Monday’s game against Anaheim, Smith was run into by Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg. The collision knocked Smith’s mask off, and a spotter watching the game in Toronto asked that he veteran goalie be removed for concussion testing.
That happened at the 4:29 mark of the third. By the time Smith had been checked out, tested and cleared, there were only 90 seconds remaining — meaning Smith’s night was essentially over. (Marek Langenhamer secured the win in relief).
Arizona’s longtime No. 1 was displeased with the way things played out.
“I think there’s a lot of flaws in the system, especially with the goalie position, and it needs to get fixed,” he said, per the Arizona Republic. “What stops a fourth liner from going and bumping into a goalie? It’s just a two-minute penalty to get your starting goalie out?
“I don’t think it’s happened in a playoff game yet, but I’m sure it will.”
The 35-year-old added that his initial reaction to getting hit — grabbing his face and head — was only an instinct to protect himself, not an indication he suffered a head injury.
Smith also said that, for a goalie, sitting out for as long as he did makes it extremely difficult to jump back into action.
“I’m cleared, but now I’m coming back and now I’m more at risk of injury than before,” he explained.
Smith had yet another issue with the concussion protocol as it pertains to goalies. What if, he asked, the starter gets knocked out and requires testing, then the backup has the exact same thing happen? As unlikely as the scenario sounds, the possibility is out there.
As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the league looks to reassess the policy this offseason. In an email to the Republic, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said concussion protocol “is something that has been debated and discussed over a number of years and in great detail.”
One has to think those discussions will continue.