Joffrey Lupul the latest Leaf team won't admit has a concussion

Cam Charron
April 05 2013 12:03PM

Before Jake Gardiner had concussion-like symptoms, Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins defiantly said that Gardiner "wasn't in a concussion state" after sustaining a hit against the Rochester Americans.

When Nazem Kadri was hit in the head, the Marlies officially said that Kadri had "headaches" and was eventually held out of the lineups for two weeks with a rib injury.

James Reimer's agent last season tweeted out that Reimer was "symptom-free since April". It was disclosed that Reimer did, in fact, miss 18 games with a concussion last season, and six at the end of the season with a more mild "upper body injury" which was apparently not related to his previous concussions.

So forgive me if I'm wary about Joffrey Lupul's injury status after Lupul took a hit to the head and got up wobbly last night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

I don't claim to be a medical expert. This sort of information is imported from South Carolina, where Jo Innes is located. Innes writes the excellent 'Quiet Room' blogs over at the Backhand Shelf and has shared her thoughts before on Lupul's back injury that kept him out of the lineup for two half seasons.

Okay, so according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (aka VERY SMART PEOPLE), "A concussion is an injury to the brain that results in temporary loss of normal brain function"

So if you get hit in the head and are woozy after, then that could be a concussion. The NHL says you're supposed to get evaluated by a doctor if you show any of: 

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Motor incoordination/balance problems
  • Slow to get up following a hit to the head
  • Blank or vacant look
  • Disorientation
  • Clutching the head after a hit
  • Visible facial injury in combination with any of the above

Here's the hit again:

Here's the commentary from Sportsnet Ontario:

Bowen: Lupul is very slowly making his way over to the Leaf bench.

...

Bowen: Lupul… is really—

Millen: He's out.

Bowen: —is really woozy.

Millen: He's out on his feet. I can tell you that.

Bowen: He just got to the bench and he missed the door by about three feet.

Here's a screenshot of Joffrey Lupul missing the bench:

Here's a screenshot of Lupul on the bench:

That second image may as well be a GIF and you wouldn't be able to tell. Lupul was not moving on the bench once he got in the doorway. After the hard contact to the head, Lupul displays symptoms 2, 3, 4 and 5 that Jo listed.

There's more from Jo:

So according to the league's own rules, Lupul had signs of a concussion (I guess, I haven't seen the video). The Leafs are the WORST for not admitting when someone is concussed. THE. WORST.

So does Lupul have a concussion? Beats the shit out of me. Maybe. Do the Leafs habitually lie about what's wrong with players? Yes. Are teams ever careless about letting guys play who shouldn't? Yes. Is it a miracle none of them are permanently brain damaged? Yes. Except they ARE because Derek Boogaard and Bob Probert.

Remember, Colby Armstrong somehow missed Leafs medical testing last year and played through a concussion. It's worth noting that AFTER all this and BEFORE Lupul missed practice today, Randy Carlyle pegged his chances last night of practising at 50-50, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

Lupul will miss some games with an upper body injury, the team won't admit he has a concussion and he'll probably come back too early, is how I guess this plays out. We've seen it before with Gardiner, with Kadri, with Reimer and with Armstrong. It's not exactly news the Leafs are terrible at handling this sort of stuff.

Updated with some wisdom from Jeffler:

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 jasken
April 05 2013, 02:23PM
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I think Lupul has a concussion do I think its upto the Leafs organization to release to the press and the gamblers its none of their damn business, all they need is to know he wont be returning. Lupul's medical condition is not something people should actually in fact concern themselves with. If there had been "REAL DOCTORS" they aren't allowed to tell medical conditions. Its against a code of ethics, and the Law.

What should be addressed is the medical staff in allowing players to return to ice if they been injured. Management goes by what they are told by their physicans, coaches and players. Although they rarely interfer in these kinda decisions by coaches and medical staff they should. Alot of career ending injuries could be prevented by doing so.

To be truthful here fact is its not just at the major league level its throughout all levels. As long as people continue to care more about filling their pockets than caring about the people who fill them this will always be the case.

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#3 jasken
April 05 2013, 05:17PM
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Cam Charron wrote:

I can get where you're coming from. It's not exactly our concern how they disclose it, as long as the player doesn't play.

However...

The following Toronto Maple Leafs have played with a concussion, known or suspected, over the last two seasons:

  • Nazem Kadri (suspected)
  • Jake Gardiner (known)
  • James Reimer (known)
  • Colby Armstrong (known)
  • John-Michael Liles (known)
  • Mikhail Grabovski (suspected)
  • May be more actually. We have no way of knowing. What we do know is that the Leafs don't have a history of holding players out of the lineup with suspected concussions.

    So management rather then leaving decisions to players, medical staff who say their clear,take it upon themselves to be more involved. Step in take action and not allow them to play even though they have been cleared by medical personnel.

    How do you tell a player? Medical staff says he's clear, he feels great, you go good your off roster until I determine otherwise. A player has to be honest. The actual concussion might not actually show up for a couple days.

    Thought the same with was as well, although have no degree in medical association. Doctor's are, I dont classify their medical staff as doctors so when they say doctor and not medical staff has cleared them I like to believe it was an actual doctor. Otherwise their irresponsible if an actual doctor says their ready what can you do refuse them play.

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    #4 Jeremy Ian
    April 05 2013, 06:08PM
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    Long time reader, Cam. You are good writer.

    The thing is, conflicts of interest plague the issue of head injuries.

    1. Players have a vested interest in playing through their injuries. Though they puke in the toilet between periods, they want to be on the ice with their teammates, not watching TV.

    2. Equipment makers have a vested interest in bullet proof kevlar (what Lupul hit before going down). Faster game, harder hits.

    3. Management wants their paid workers doing their thing.

    4. Doctors are paid by teams, not medical associations.

    The latter two may worry about lawsuits, and this may be what eventually brings the kind of behaviour that the Leafs display to its knees. But for the moment, the incentives are stacked towards hiding the injury.

    Here's a real kicker, Cam. Are we complicit, too? Check out this link to Malcolm Gladwell (old classmate of mine from U of T, hockey fan) and what he says about fan complicity in football concussions.

    http://www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/shows/2013/02/03/is-pro-football-immoral/

    Maybe we have Eric Lindros to thank for breaking this open when he defied Bobby Clarke.

    Keep up the good writing.

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    #5 Jeremy Ian
    April 05 2013, 06:11PM
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    1. Players have a vested interest in playing through their injuries. Though they puke in the toilet between periods, they want to be on the ice with their teammates, not watching TV.

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