The Chicago Blackhawks are now appear to have at least two (if not three) veterans missing action because of concussion problems. Unfortunately for the fans, and those players, it appears the organization hasn’t learned much from the delicate approach employed by the Pittsburgh Penguins, either.
It appears the Hawks have some issues with how they’re handling concussions, and that needs to change.
The most recent disturbing piece of evidence came from Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. On Wednesday morning Jahns tweeted that Niklas Hjalmarsson felt “off-balance” early against the Dallas Stars on Feb. 23, and knew he wasn’t right.
Here’s the problem with that statement: if Hjalmarsson didn’t think he was 100 percent, why did he skate over 16 minutes in the game?
The Dallas game was Hjalmarsson’s first time in game action since Feb. 7 against the Avalanche. He was not credited with a hit or a blocked shot in the game, and has not played again since.
According to an article on the Daily Herald’s site by Tim Sassone on Feb. 10, the common misdiagnosis of “sick” happened out of the gate with Hjalmarsson. “Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said it was because of the flu.”
On Jan. 23, the organization told the collected press that Toews’ injury “wasn’t serious,” and that he wouldn’t be out very long. When The Score’s Jay Zawaski reported on ChicagoNow.com that Toews had a concussion, even some of the beat reporters said as much as “the blogger needs to dig deeper.”
And yet here we are, now almost universally admitting that Toews has a concussion.
In an update in his breaking news article, Zawaski indicated that his source also indicated that Toews initially suffered the concussion in the San Jose game on Feb. 10 (some have speculated it was because of a punch to the back of the head from Joe Thornton). After the San Jose game, Toews played in five more games before taking a seat, and was over 20 minutes in four of those contests.
After watching Sidney Crosby’s disappearing act in Pittsburgh, and with the entire free world understanding that having one of the best players on the planet healthy is a good idea, why did the Hawks run Toews back out there five more times?
There has been speculation that Steve Montador, currently on IR, has a serious concussion and that his regular season is over (if not longer).
Last year, Dave Bolland left the lineup with a concussion he suffered in Tampa on March 9, but returned to play heavy minutes (including over 24 minutes the Game Six) in the final four games against the Canucks.
Certainly there are a lot of questions about how the Blackhawks have handled concussions this year that fans, and the impacted players, deserve to have answered.