The Blackhawks could be without the services of Steve Montador for a long while.
The 33-year-old defenseman is still dealing with serious post-concussion symptoms and hasn’t skated with teammates in weeks, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Montador can’t elevate his heart rate without suffering symptoms and will reportedly “concentrate on becoming healthy in every day life” before figuring out what’s next for his playing career.
Montador signed a four-year, $11 million deal with Chicago prior to last season and got off to a solid start, racking up 14 points in his first 52 games.
But his season took an unfortunate turn in February, when he suffered a concussion against Colorado. He returned for one game — Mar. 27 against New Jersey — but only lasted four minutes before he was pulled from action and shut down for the year.
Montador then suffered more misfortune during the lockout.
After being medically cleared by team doctors, he began skating during informal practices…during which he collided with a teammate and suffered another head injury.
He hasn’t returned to the ice since.
Note: According to Chris Kuc of the Tribune, Montador was the only Blackhawks player not to pass his physical during training camp.
Feel free to relax, Capitals fans — Nicklas Backstrom doesn’t have a concussion and expects to be in Washington’s lineup when the season starts.
Backstrom confirmed he visited a concussion specialist this week, but it turns out it was “more the neck, a stiff neck.”
The 25-year-old suffered the neck injury (if you can call a stiff neck an injury) when he was checked into the boards on Dec. 26 in a KHL game.
“I feel good, a hundred percent,” Backstrom said Friday, as per CSNWashington.com. “I know there’s a lot of speculation about what’s going on but it’s something I wanted to check out. It’s no concussion. We can all be calm.”
Backstrom missed 40 games with a concussion last season, thus all the speculation.
Concussions and controversial hits have faded into the background thanks to the lockout, but head injuries are still a major concern and storyline in modern sports.
Filmmaker Steve James (of “Hoop Dreams” fame) decided to tackle the issue of concussions in his 2011 documentary “Head Games,” which includes prominent appearances from Brendan Shanahan and Keith Primeau.*
The documentary leans heaviest toward the NFL and football in general, but the NHL’s issues – and measures to make changes – also surface frequently. Some of the clips and photos might bring back some tough memories, as the movie shows memorable checks such as Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty and also discusses the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Bob Probert.
Yet even though James’ documentary brings up some difficult questions for hockey and sports in general, James told NHL.com that the league has been progressive in many areas.
“I do think all the sports have a ways to go in terms of how they handle rules and discussions around concussions, but the NHL has certainly been more forward-thinking on this issue than football,” James said.
” … I think the fact that Brendan Shanahan has taken that role and taken it very seriously is a very positive thing. Daly was obvious and candid about the League’s view [in the film]. He basically said there is going to be brain injuries, no way around it. I think it was great he was willing to state it.”
You can read a little more about it – including Primeau’s emotional presence in the film – in NHL.com’s article or check out the movie via various outlets. (It’s on Netflix Instant Queue, for instance.)
* -You might not be as excited to see Bill Daly thanks to his prominence in the CBA discussions, but he makes a cameo, too.
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.
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.