NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 30:  Aaron Ekblad #5 of the Florida Panthers poses for a 2016 NHL All-Star portrait at Bridgestone Arena on January 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Sanford Myers/Getty Images)

Report: Panthers want Ekblad pulled from World Cup amid concussion concerns

Florida isn’t taking any chances with Aaron Ekblad.

Ekblad, the franchise defenseman that was shook up on a Leo Komarov hit during North America’s win over Finland on Sunday, is reportedly on his way back to South Florida and expected to miss the remainder of the World Cup, per the Miami Herald.

From a source within the Panthers organization, the Herald reports Ekblad suffered a “mild concussion” on the hit. Florida also told the NHL it doesn’t want him playing in the tournament anymore.

Team North America brass, meanwhile, isn’t saying much.

GM Peter Chiarelli said Ekblad is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, and head coach Todd McLellan reiterated that diagnosis following North America’s 4-3 loss to Russia on Monday night — a game in which Ekblad was scratched and replaced by Jacob Trouba.

“Upper-body, day-to-day, don’t know how long he’ll be,” McLellan said. “And it’s a big loss.”

It’s not coincidental that “TNA” lost its first game without Ekblad in the lineup. The first overall pick in 2014, Ekblad burst onto the NHL scene and has emerged as arguably the best young defensive prospect in hockey.

After capturing the Calder in ’14-15, he racked up an impressive 15 goals and 36 points in his sophomore campaign last season, receiving a handful of Norris votes in the process.

Ekblad quickly emerged as a linchpin on the North American blueline. He averaged close to 22 minutes per game in the three exhibitions, finishing with two goals and an assist, then played a team-high 23:53 in the win over Finland.

It’s pretty obvious why the Panthers want Ekblad out of this tournament.

He’s a budding star, already one of the faces of the franchise and a major investment — this summer, he inked a monster eight-year, $60 million extension with Florida, one that will keep him with the organization through 2025.

Because of that, it’s almost impossible to think Ekblad will return to play for Team North America in this tournament.

Update: Aaron Ekblad deals with ‘mild’ concussion

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 18: Aaron Ekblad #5 of Team North America takes a check from Valtteri Filppula #51 and Leo Komarov #71 of Team Finland in the second period during the World Cup of Hockey at the Air Canada Center on September 18, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Update: Aaron Ekblad is dealing with a “mild concussion,” according to reporters including ESPN’s Craig Custance.

Team North America GM Peter Chiarelli would only say he’s day-to-day during Sportsnet’s second intermission of tonight’s game against Russia.


Tough news for North America and the Florida Panthers: Aaron Eklbad cannot play against Russia because of an upper-body injury.

North America at least has a nice option in reserve, as Jacob Trouba takes Ekblad’s place.

The belief (according to onlookers including Postmedia’s Michael Traikos) is that Ekblad was injured thanks to a Leo Komarov hit. You can actually see the moment of contact in the photo above, as Ekblad is almost lost in the mass of humanity.

Stephanie “My Regular Face” also has the GIF of the hit that may have hurt Ekblad:

Neither Team North America nor the Panthers have provided any additional information regarding how serious Ekblad’s upper-body injury is, at least beyond sidelining for at least this game.

If it’s significant, this is another bullet point for GMs who may argue against the World Cup of Hockey becoming a fixture.

Daly: NHL adding more concussion spotters this season

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WASHINGTON (AP) The NHL is revamping its concussion monitoring system for the upcoming season.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says the league will have four concussion spotters watching all games from a centralized location in either Toronto or New York, as well as spotters at each game to check for visible symptoms. Those spotters will have the authority to have players removed from games.

Previously, there had been team-affiliated concussion spotters in each arena and they could recommend but not require players be removed from a game.

Daly says the new concussion policy goes into effect for the eight-team World Cup of Hockey, which begins Saturday in Toronto, and that the NHL will release more details closer to the start of the regular season.


Latest development in concussion lawsuit could be bad news for NHL

Senator says Bettman, NHL are ‘in denial’ about concussions, CTE

Gabriel Landeskog hopes his concussion story helps others

Gabriel Landeskog hopes his concussion story helps others


When you’re an impossibly young captain of the Colorado Avalanche, it’s probably tough to choose your own health over the best interests of your team.

That scenario presented itself to Gabriel Landeskog, and he decided to fight through the pain. As you can see in the video above, he regrets the decision.

Landeskog shared his story, stemming from an injury in 2013, with “EMPWR,” a charitable foundation focused on concussion awareness. You can watch him discuss that tough period in his life in the video above.

It appears that Landeskog was discussing this hard hit by then-San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart:’s game report notes that Landeskog delivered multiple hits on Stuart after that. While he was giving rather than receiving those checks, those moments still likely left the Avalanche captain vulnerable to further injury.

It’s easy to say “Don’t go back in the game” when you’re not in the situation, but hopefully more players will protect themselves in the future.

Landeskog isn’t the only NHL player to share his experiences, and some weren’t as “lucky” as he was. Take Joey Hishon, whose career unraveled thanks in part to concussion issues:

(H/T to

Senator says Bettman, NHL are ‘in denial’ about concussions, CTE

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with the media during a press conference prior to Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time Gary Bettman denied or downplayed the link between concussions and CTE; it also isn’t the first time that someone has been stunned by his stance.

Even so, it’s difficult to look away from the bank-and-forth between the NHL’s commissioner and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, most recently spotlighted by Sports Illustrated.

It began with Blumenthal’s letter to Bettman and the NHL, dated June 23, which cited the NFL acknowledging a link between football and CTE. He then asked Bettman nine questions related to how the NHL handles brain injuries and how it might be different from the NHL.

The New York Times passes along a response dated July 22, Bettman described the science linking CTE to concussions as “nascent” and reasserted his previous stance:

“The relationship between concussions and the asserted clinical symptoms of C.T.E. remains unknown.”

Blumenthal was “appalled” by Bettman’s take, according to Sports Illustrated and the Senator himself.

Perhaps you could chalk this up to a public relations battle of sorts, although TSN reports that this latest round of comments might provide fuel for lawyers working on a concussion lawsuit against the NHL.

“We should have the chance now to walk him through some of his denials and find out why he has made his statements and ask him what makes him so sure,” Lead counsel Charles Zimmerman said. “Why is he so willing to go against conventional science which says repeated blows to the head cause damage to the brain?”

As familiar as some of this might feel for those following the way the league is handling concussions, it could mean that the NHL will follow in the NFL’s footsteps in a costly way.

At minimum, it’s been a mess for the league, and it doesn’t seem like things will get easier anytime soon.