Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s long struggles with concussions took a sad turn today.
Michael Russo of The Star Tribune reports that Bouchard is dealing with concussion-like symptoms stemming from a pair of recent hits. On the upside, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher says his symptoms aren’t as serious as he’s had in the past, but the fact he’s having them isn’t a good sign.
Bouchard missed over a season’s worth of action in the past thanks to previous concussions, but returned in December 2010 to play and has stayed concussion free until now. With this latest setback worries over how he’s able to handle the rigors of a hockey season are back in force.
Bouchard joins Guillaume Latendresse on the shelf with concussion-like symptoms for the Wild and losing your second line wingers could be a leading reason why the Wild have lost 11 of their last 12 games. Russo reports that Fletcher is scouting around for help but doesn’t want to blow things up to do so.
The Penguins are already up to their ears in injury problems with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Dustin Jeffrey, and Brooks Orpik out of action. You can throw Tyler Kennedy onto that list of guys dealing with health issues as he was held out of last night’s 2-1 loss to Winnipeg with what’s described as concussion-like symptoms.
His status for tonight’s game against Minnesota (7:30 p.m. ET on Versus) is in doubt and for Pittsburgh that’s a bad break to have right now. With those guys all out of action the pressure to score falls squarely on the shoulders of James Neal, Jordan Staal, and Chris Kunitz. The Penguins have been used to making up for guys being out of action, but every team has their limits for what they can do.
What’s making things harder is the number of games the Pens have had to start the year. Pittsburgh has already played in seven games this season and their eighth game is on the way tonight. Having so many games at the start of the year leaves a team to be more susceptible to injury and the Pens have fallen victim to that. Getting sent off to western Canada to start the year doesn’t help much either. It’s up to the Pens to hold down the fort for now lest they wind up falling back of the pack too early.
The Dallas Stars have been surprisingly successful this season, but they’ve relied heavily on two players: elite forward Brad Richards and oft-injured goalie Kari Lehtonen. The team has made it through patches when Lehtonen was banged up, but Richards went down with a mysterious injury just as things were really unraveling for the Stars.
As it turns out, Stars coach Marc Crawford told Mike Heika that Richards is suffering from concussion-like symptoms.
Obviously, this is awful news for the Stars and their fans, although Heika writes that it might not be as bad as it sounds. The team is currently taking a “day-to-day approach” with the elite playmaker’s head injury and Crawford even said that Richards could play again on Tuesday if his Monday workouts go well.
It’s hard not to be a little skeptical about that last bit, but here is an excerpt from Heika’s report.
“It will be important for us to get back there and see how he’s doing and see if he can go through a practice, and then move on from there,” Crawford said. “We want to do what’s best for Brad, and so we’ll move forward cautiously.”
News like this often is seen as extremely concerning, but Crawford said it could also work out that Richards feels fine, goes through practice on Monday and then is ready to play on Tuesday against New Jersey. He said a lot depends on how Richards is feeling each day.
Such an approach seems almost a little cavalier considering the concussion problems that have troubled players such as Sidney Crosby and Marc Savard, but it’s important to note that the severity of concussions can range wildly. Perhaps Richards’ is a more “mild” case, but obviously, the Stars are still in the process of learning about his condition.
We’ll keep you updated, but it’s certain the Stars must attempt to end their three-game losing streak without their best player tonight in a contest against the Vancouver Canucks.