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Leafs’ Gardiner out at least another week with concussion-like symptoms

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Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, currently plying his trade with the AHL Marlies, will miss at least another week of action with concussion-like symptoms.

(Even though the club won’t say he’s suffered a concussion.)

That’s what Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins told the Toronto Sun on Tuesday, a few days after news broke that Gardiner suffered a head/neck injury on Dec. 8 against Rochester.

Eakins said that because of the Marlies’ schedule and upcoming AHL holiday break, Gardiner won’t be able to return to action anytime soon.

“The way the schedule has played out [three games in four days starting Wednesday in Cleveland], we have a certain medical protocol we have to follow with Jake,” Eakins explained. “We can’t sway from it. He hasn’t been on the ice, he has to get into a full contact practice and that’s just not going to happen the way our schedule is.

“He can’t play until we ramp him up in practice. And we play right after the break [Dec. 26 vs. Hamilton] so he can’t play that one.”

Gardiner could return for a pair of back-to-back games against Grand Rapids on Dec. 28-29, but would need to pass whiplash and/or concussion tests (not that he has a concussion.)

The Marlies are preaching caution in this situation — Gardiner is one of the Maple Leafs’ brightest prospects — but are likely pining to get him back in the lineup.

Gardiner has been an offensive force this season, tallying nine goals and eight assists in 22 games. The Leafs have high hopes for the 22-year-old who was acquired, along with Joffrey Lupul, from Anaheim in 2011 for François Beauchemin.

Wild’s Bouchard (concussion) is “pretty much symptom free”

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Pierre-Marc Bouchard hasn’t played since Jan. 4 due to a concussion, but has finally gotten to the point where he’s been “pretty much symptom free” for a few weeks, according to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo.

Still, after being sidelined for nearly a year, he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.

“That’s a good question,” Bouchard said when Russo asked if he’d be ready for training camp should the lockout end soon. “I rather speak to the doctor first, talk to him and see what he says. The last few weeks I’ve been pretty good, so I’m optimistic about it.”

Because he wasn’t fit to play by Oct. 11, Bouchard hasn’t been locked out like most NHL players. That means he’s had access to the Minnesota Wild’s facilities and was able to practice with their AHL-affiliate, the Houston Aeros.

That being said, an argument can be made for Bouchard needing this lockout to end even more than most players. He’s participated in just 97 games from 2009-10 to 2011-12 and his five-year, $20.4 million contract is set to expire this summer. He needs a chance to stage a comeback before that deal ends, but he might not get it.

Report: ‘Hawks medically clear Hossa from concussion

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The Chicago Blackhawks have cleared forward Marian Hossa from from last year’s season-ending concussion, according the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc.

Hossa suffered the concussion during Game 3 of Chicago’s opening round playoff series against Phoenix, on this hit from Coyotes forward Raffi Torres:

Torres was suspended 25 games for the hit (later reduced to 21) while Hossa missed the remainder of the series and suffered through some dark days of recovery:

“I was so tired. I’d wake up and fall asleep again,” Hossa said. “All of a sudden I’d realize it was nighttime and I wasn’t hungry because I’d feel sick.

“I’d try to open the window and the light hits you and you realize it’s not good. The first three days were the worst days, but slowly it would become a little bit better and better.”

In early October, word broke that Hossa had resumed skating and working out with Chicago’s conditioning coach, but the 33-year-old declined to be interviewed about his progress.

If the medical clearance reports are accurate, Hossa would now officially be locked out and no longer eligible to collect salary or use team facilities/work with team staff.

Hossa is currently in the fourth year of a 12-year, $63.3 million deal that sorta caused the lockout in the first place.

Gardiner out with concussion-like symptoms, but the Marlies won’t call it a concussion

Jake Gardiner

Some concern in Toronto as Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, currently playing for the AHL Marlies, is out with the dreaded concussion-like symptoms.

Marlies coach Dallas Eakins won’t call it a concussion (where have we heard that before?), only that Gardiner is feeling symptoms in his head and neck (via @KyleTheReporter).

It’s believed Gardiner suffered the injury Saturday when hit (charged, to be specific) by Rochester’s Kevin Porter. Gardiner stayed in the game and even scored the winning goal, but was eventually pulled.

After the game, Eakins said Gardiner “wasn’t in a concussion state, just not feeling quite right.”

Gardiner has been an offensive force this season, tallying nine goals and eight assists in 22 games. The Leafs have high hopes for the 22-year-old who was acquired, along with Joffrey Lupul, from Anaheim in 2011 for François Beauchemin.

Wild’s Bouchard (concussion) back practicing with AHL Houston

Pierre-Marc Bouchard
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Positive sign for Minnesota this week as Pierre-Marc Bouchard resumed practicing after missing extensive time with a concussion.

But given his lengthy history with those types of injuries, it’s not surprising to hear team brass is preaching patience and caution regarding his latest comeback.

The 28-year-old forward returned to the ice with AHL Houston, his first action since missing the final 41 games of last year due to a concussion suffered on this hit from Winnipeg’s Zach Bogosian:

It was the latest in a long line of concussion issues for Bouchard, who missed 112 of 113 games over a span from March 2009 to December 2010.

So, easy to understand why Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher is taking things slowly this time around.

“We’re trying to see if he can take the next step and get used to some contact again,” Fletcher told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “He’s not where we need him to get, but hopefully he can make progress.”

Getting Bouchard healthy and into the lineup would be a huge boon for the Wild. He’s a gifted offensive player — despite all the injuries, he’s racked up 60 points in his last 96 games — and provides playmaking skill.

That said, it’s unlikely Minnesota is counting on him for the upcoming campaign.

He wasn’t cleared for contact in October — meaning he’s still collecting salary on his five-year, $20.4 million deal — and, as the Star-Tribune suggests, he likely wouldn’t be able to participate in training camp if the season was to begin soon.