Confusion reigns after Jonathan Quick concussion protocol episode

NHL
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The end of the first period in Monday’s Maple Leafs-Kings game brought us a big moment of confusion involving LA goaltender Jonathan Quick.

With three minutes to play, Quick took a blow to the head during a scramble in front of his net. He fell backwards into his crease, and grabbed at his mask, clearly shaken up. Play resumed for another 109 seconds before officials notified the Kings that the goaltender needed to leave the game after the independent concussion spotters called in a mandatory evaluation.

After some confusion and hesitance from Quick, he left the game and Darcy Kuemper entered for only 37 seconds before Quick returned.

“I don’t know what the [expletive] happened there,” Quick said via the LA Times. “I don’t know what happened. You have to ask the league.”

Kings head coach John Stevens explained just what happened after the game.

Via Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider:

“[A]s we were getting Darcy ready to go in the net, they said they’ve reviewed it a second time and he doesn’t have to come out, so when we tried to put him back in the net, the referees come over said that if there’s an injury on the ice, he has to come out for one play, and I said, ‘well, he’s not injured. We were doing what we were told from the league,’ and then they came over after and said, ‘you know what? That’s never happened before.’ So that was the read on it, which is respectful. I mean, they were doing what they thought was right. We just didn’t like a guy going in with a minute left in the period. So, everybody was just doing what they were told, and in the end, we wanted to put Jonny back in because we were told he could, but then they deemed at that point that he was an injured player and had to come out for one play.”

Stevens added that Quick wasn’t evaluated for a concussion because once the spotters determined the goaltender didn’t have to come out there was no need to look at him. He also said that the entire situation was “disruptive” and the Kings want to know why he wasn’t pulled immediately if the spotters saw something.

Here’s the official wording from the NHL/NHLPA Concussion Evaluation Management Protocol:

“Removal and evaluation of a Player will be required if the Central League Spotter determines that a mandatory evaluation is warranted, even if the In-Arena League Spotter and/or Club personnel disagree that a visible sign or a mechanism of injury has occurred or been exhibited. If the Central League Spotter communicates a visible sign triggering an evaluation in the discretion of the Club’s medical personnel, and the Club’s medical personnel did not see the event, such Club medical personnel shall, as soon as reasonably possible following the communication (for example, during the next television time-out or intermission if the next break in play is the intermission), check in with the Player or review the video clip of the event, or both, to determine if an acute evaluation is warranted.”

Dive deeper into that protocol and you’ll see that Quick’s clutching of his head was an immediate trigger for the spotter to call down for a removal.

A source told Sportsnet that the reason why Quick didn’t need an evaluation was that it was determined he was hit in the head by either Zach Hyman or Derek Forbert’s stick on the play. Maybe a glancing blow to the head from a stick isn’t the same as an elbow, forearm or shoulder, but it’s still a hit to the head, no? And wouldn’t that be worthy of at least some sort of evaluation, especially given the goaltender’s reaction?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.