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Penguins say Hornqvist is dealing with a concussion (but Letang is not)

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Concussions are once again a concern for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who shared some good news and bad news about such injuries following Wednesday’s physical 7-4 win against the Winnipeg Jets.

The good-ish: Pens Inside Scoop (of the team website) passed along word from Mike Sullivan that Kris Letang isn’t dealing with a concussion or anything related to the stroke he suffered in the past. It’s a “hockey-related injury” that he’s currently rehabbing.

So, that seems fairly positive, but the Penguins didn’t provide a timetable for Letang’s return, so we will see.

The not-so-good: Patric Hornqvist, however, is dealing with a concussion. There is at least one element of mild optimism:

The Penguins’ trip continues from March 10-15, so that implies that there’s a chance Hornqvist will only miss four more games (or maybe fewer).

Naturally, concussions can be difficult to gauge, so his outlook could easily change.

Bruins’ Ryan Spooner out indefinitely with concussion

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The Boston Bruins announced some unfortunate news on Tuesday: Ryan Spooner is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Spooner had generated 10 points in his last 13 games, even showing some early chemistry on a third line with Frank Vatrano and Drew Stafford. CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty also notes that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy had just spoken glowingly about the Bruins’ good health of late.

“Full health is important this time of year. You want to field your best lineup as much as possible, and to have depth to move guys in and out of the lineup to create some competition, which is good,” Cassidy said. “When guys know they have nobody pushing them to get in the lineup, you would hope they wouldn’t get comfortable, but it’s human nature sometimes.”

Well, uh, they don’t need to worry about getting too comfortable. Here’s a peek at what the Bruins’ lines might look like:

The Bruins promoted Austin Czarnik from the AHL in Spooner’s absence.

‘There’s a lot of flaws’ — Smith sounds off on concussion protocol

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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.

Canucks send Baertschi home from trip with concussion

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After sticking with the club following his concussion on Tuesday night in Nashville, Sven Baertschi is now on his way back to Vancouver.

Per the Province, Baertschi didn’t travel with the club for its Saturday matinee in Boston, and was instead returned to Vancouver for further testing. The 24-year-old was concussed on a hit from Preds forward Cody McLeod early in Tuesday’s game, didn’t return, then proceeded to sit out last night’s 3-0 win in Columbus.

Losing Baertschi will hurt — he had 27 points through 50 games, and sits third on the team with 13 goals — but head coach Willie Desjardins did adjust the lineup for last night’s game at Nationwide, and things worked out.

Mikael Granlund moved up to play with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, while Loui Eriksson played with Brandon Sutter and Jayson Megna.

Jannik Hansen filled Baertschi’s role on a line with Bo Horvat and Alex Burrows.

Looking ahead, Vancouver’s all-important road trip continues at TD Garden this weekend, Buffalo on Sunday, Pittsburgh on Tuesday and St. Louis on Thursday. The Canucks will need more results like the one in Columbus if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Torts questions concussion protocol after Detroit incident

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On Tuesday night in Detroit, Columbus forward Josh Anderson took a high hit from Wings d-man Brendan Smith.

The NHL’s concussion spotter removed Anderson from the game and, after being examined by Detroit’s team physician — the Jackets don’t travel with one — the decision was made to keep the 22-year-old out for the remainder of the contest.

On Wednesday, Columbus physicians examined Anderson, and concluded there were no signs of a concussion. All of which made for a state of confusion for head coach John Tortorella.

“That was the protocol – which makes no sense to me. Some doctor just pulls him out and says, ‘You’re concussed’ and then we come back here and he isn’t,” Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “It makes zero sense. And I lose a pretty important player.

“(Anderson) was checked the following morning by our doctor. The spotter pulled him out, out of the game, and called down and said, ‘he’s not playing.’ We have diagnosed him not being concussed. Who diagnosed it (Tuesday night)? Was it their team doctor? I don’t know how it all works. It doesn’t make a whole helluva a lot of sense to me.”

Anderson said he did “a couple physical things in the room,” with the Red Wings doctor, adding that everything went well. He said he told the physician he wanted to return to play, but was held out for precautionary reasons.

The NHL implemented independent concussion spotters in arenas this season, along with an additional crew that watches games from league offices. All of them have the authority to remove players exhibiting signs of a potential concussion.

As for the second step, league rules state that if the visiting team isn’t traveling with a physician, the home team physician will be in charge of examining players removed from the game.