Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason and Fedor Tyutin of Russia, right, watches the puck enter the net on a tie-breaking goal to win the game by Minnesota Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard, left, in the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 in Saint Paul, Minn. The Wild won 3-2. It was Bouchard's 100th career goal. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Pierre-Marc Bouchard retires, citing concussion risk

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Former NHLer Pierre-Marc Bouchard has retired due to the long-term risk of sustaining another concussion.

Bouchard has spent the past two seasons playing for Swiss team EV Zug. The 31-year-old forward spent most of his NHL career with the Minnesota Wild, who drafted him eighth overall in 2002.

Bouchard’s concussion issues date back to the tail end of the 2008-09 season. In 2009-10, he missed all but the Wild’s season-opener, then didn’t return until December of the 2010-11 campaign. A concussion caused him to miss half of 2011-12 as well.

After a short stint with the Islanders, he headed for Europe in 2014.

Bouchard was Zug’s leading scorer this season, piling up 67 points in 49 games. He finished his NHL career with 356 points in 593 games.

Dealing with first concussion has been ‘just weird’ for Leafs’ Bozak

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Concussion’s have arguably become the trickiest injury to deal with in sports, and Leafs forward Tyler Bozak is finding that out the hard way.

The 29-year-old suffered the first concussion of his career after he was hit by Senators forward Mika Zibanejad on Feb. 6 (top). Bozak’s been out ever since.

“It’s just weird,” Bozak said, per Sportsnet. “You’re not really hurt. Like when you’ve hurt your arm or your leg or something you know what you can and can’t do. But when you have (a concussion) it’s kind of hard. When I started riding the bike I’d get headaches right after.

“And then some mornings I’d wake up with a headache and some mornings I wouldn’t. I guess every day is a new thing.”

Bozak was cleared for contact on Tuesday, but not before he failed his two previous baseline tests. He finally returned to practice on Wednesday. The Leafs aren’t sure when he’ll be available to play in a game.

When seeking advice on how to deal with his injury, Bozak turned to former teammate Clarke MacArthur. The Sens forward suffered two concussions in a short period of time earlier this season and he hasn’t played since. His experience has proven to be valuable for Bozak.

“He just said (to) try and stay positive and try and stay patient,” Bozak said of his talks with MacArthur. “He had a couple (concussions) pretty much back-to-back and it’s been a tough road for him. It’s obviously really frustrating because you want to be out there – any time you’re not out practising with the guys and going out on the road, it’s tough – but it’s one of those things that it’s a lot more important to be patient and make sure everything’s all right.”

After missing 66 games, MacArthur (concussion) wants to play Sens’ final four

Clarke MacArthur
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Nobody would blame Clarke MacArthur for shutting it down, after spending most of this season plagued with concussion problems.

MacArthur isn’t having it, though.

“I would love to just get a few games in, to know going into the summer that things are going to be fine for next year,” he said, per the Ottawa Citizen. “You never know, I guess. There’s no certainty to when you’re going to get hit or what’s going to happen, but for me, mentally, it would be nice to play some games.”

MacArthur has been out of action since Oct. 4 after suffering a concussion against Columbus. It’s believed to be a continuation of the head injury he suffered last season — one that cost him 18 games — and another he suffered during the preseason.

According to the Citizen, the 30-year-old was set to return two weeks ago, but failed a baseline test on Feb. 29. He’s since been meeting regularly with doctors in the hope of getting cleared for the Sens’ final four games of the season — Apr. 2 versus Philly, Apr. 5 versus Pittsburgh, Apr. 7 versus Florida and the season finale on Apr. 9 against Boston.

The Sens are no doubt hopeful MacArthur can get back into the mix, and be as productive as last season (when he had 36 points in just 62 games played).

He’s in the first of a five-year, $23.25 million contract, one that carries through the 2020 campaign.

Burke: Flames concussion protocol was ‘followed to the letter’ in Wideman case

Brian Burke
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On the same day Dennis Wideman‘s suspension was reduced to 10 games after an appeal to a neutral arbitrator, Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke defended his team’s medical staff, saying proper concussion protocol was followed with Wideman during the incident.

Seconds before Wideman collided with linesman Don Henderson, the Flames defenseman was hit awkwardly into the boards and appeared woozy as he got to his skates. As he was skating back to the bench, he made contact with the official, prompting a 20-game suspension from the league.

Wideman remained in that game, despite the hit.

“A player can exhibit concussion symptoms after a game and our protocol was followed to the letter. The trainers spoke to him, felt he was lucid … and he stayed in the game and finished the game without any difficulty,”  Burke told reporters in a press conference on Friday.

“After the game he complained of symptoms, was given a test and registered concussion symptoms. But nothing fell through the cracks.”

It’s worth noting that Wideman spoke to reporters after the game, saying the contact with Henderson wasn’t intentional.

Wideman has missed 19 games as a result of the ban. The Flames play the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, and he’ll be back in the lineup.

In a statement released Friday by the NHLPA, the union said: “Given that it was undisputed that Dennis suffered a concussion mere seconds prior to his collision with linesman Don Henderson, we felt strongly that there should have been no discipline.”

(The NHLPA made a similar statement in February, when it was decided an appeal would be launched.)

Given the length of this specific process through a neutral arbitrator, Burke said he hopes it will be “expedited” for the next occurrence.

“To throw rocks at anyone about the length of time it took, I think is counterproductive,” said Burke.

“I do think they need to … streamline this for the next player that goes through this.”

Wild put Zucker (concussion) on IR after Rozsival hit

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On Wednesday, Minnesota put forward Jason Zucker on injured reserve with a concussion, stemming from the big hit he took from Chicago blueliner Michal Rozsival during Sunday’s outdoor game at TCF Bank Stadium.

Zucker was severely shaken up on the play, which netted Rozsival a game misconduct. The Wild forward needed assistance leaving the ice, and appeared to have struck his head on the playing surface after being checked.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in Minnesota’s loss to the Isles on Tuesday.

Looking ahead, two things to monitor: 1) how long Zucker will be out of the lineup, and 2) if his absence will force Wild GM Chuck Fletcher into making a move by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Zucker had a highly productive season last year, with 21 goals in 51 games, and had 22 points through 58 games this year.

To fill his spot on the roster, the Wild have recalled Jordan Schroeder from AHL Iowa.