The Pens will play the Detroit Red Wings tonight, once again depleted. The injury news out of the NHL today is bleak at best.
Pennsylvania: The State of Concussions
Today, the Flyers announced the Claude Giroux sustained a concussion when teammate Wayne Simmonds kneed him in the head by accident on their game on Saturday against the Lightning. Giroux did not travel with the team to Washington for their first game against the Capitals this season. This is terrible news for the Flyers. Giroux is having an absolute breakout season, leading the NHL in points and leading the Flyers in goals.
Giroux has been able to make-up somewhat for the loss of captain Chris Pronger, who has been plagued by injuries this season, appearing in only 13 of their 28 games played. Even James Van Riemsdyk has missed 5 games with an upper body injury (he returned in the game against the Pens last Thursday). Pronger is headed to Pittsburgh to visit with Dr. Mickey Collins to assess his concussion. Brayden Schenn, who was traded to the Flyers with Wayne Simmonds for former captain Mike Richards from the Kings is also out with a concussion.
Now we move on to the Penguins, who are without Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek, both concussed on November 26th in the same game against the Canadiens. Tyler Kennedy was out for the beginning of the season after sitting for a few weeks with a concussion sustained in the October 15th game against the Sabre, apparently after a collision with Tyler Meyers. Robert Bortuzzo was concussed against the Flyers when hit by Zac Rinaldo (still nothing on Rinaldo receiving supplemental punishment).
Are concussions occuring more frequently, or is it that due to new protocol, less players are playing with concussions? Perhaps the amount of concussions is par for the course year to year. However now with the league instituting new processes for handling headshots immediately following known contact, players are receiving better treatment, treatment that players like Marc Savard didn’t receive when it was immediately necessary and didn’t receive ongoing, allowing them to return to the game prior to being at 100% full health.
At anyrate, something needs to be done because this is out of control. So many young guys with head injuries isn’t just a sport problem, this is a problem with their health. The league needs to seriously evaluate the situation here before someone gets killed.
Pens Injuries Piling Up All Around
In addition to the pandemic of concussions, the Pens will be without the services of the following players tonight: Sidney Crosby (concussion symptoms), Kris Letang (concussion), Zbynek Michalek (concussion), Richard Park (broken foot), Jordan Staal (lower body injury), Ben Lovejoy (broken wrist), Robert Bortuzzo (concussion), Brian Strait (hyper-extended elbow), and possibly Evgeni Malkin, although no reason has been provided as to why Malkin may not play.
The silverlining here, if you care to see one, is that Michalek has resumed skating with the team. He has already missed a few weeks due to a broken finger, returning the same night as Crosby on November 21st, only to last the week before being concussed in Montreal. Lovejoy has been skating for three weeks a Strait has resumed skating with the team. Additionally, Staal attended practice today and is listed as day-to-day.
Jason Williams has been recalled again from Wilkes-Barre to play in place of Staal for tonight’s game. He played for the Staal on Saturday on the Island. Simon Despres and Alex Picard will remain in Pittsburgh on the blue line.
Steve Downie Fined $2,5oo
In other news, Lightning’s Steve Downie has been fined $2,500 for leaving the bench during a legal line change to engage in an altercation on the ice. During play, Downie served a roughing minor and a misconduct. Seeing as how he legally left the bench, he was served a fine as his supplemental discipline, per the NHL Rulebook. The first thing that came to my mind was “Eric Godard served 10 games for leaving the bench during the circus that was February 11, 2011.” Now, Godard left the bench during play (if you could logically consider Eric Tangradi laying on the ice with Gillies standing over him at one end of the rink and Haley going after Brent Johnson at the other end “play”), but the rules stated that was an automatic 10 games. That’s fair.
However, I believe the NHL needs to revisit this rule and revise it. A fine for a similar infraction does not seem like a heavy enough penalty. The intent in both cases was the same. They left the bench to engage in a fight. There was no other purpose. At the very least 3-5 games should be served, in my opinion.