After Jake Gardiner was run at by Kevin Porter back on December 8th, he stepped right back out on the ice for the powerplay and scored, before being held out of the third period of the same game. He has not played since, with the Toronto Marlies waffling between whether it was “concussion symptoms” “a concussion-like state” and simply “neck pain”.
This isn’t exactly an organization that seems to have a great idea with how to work with young players’ injuries. Gardiner’s not the first to play through a concussion (albeit briefly). James Reimer’s agent all but admitted the young goalie’s symptoms weren’t fully cleared before he played last season.
Anyway, let’s hope the Leafs do their due diligence here with Nazem Kadri. Via the video above, you can see he was run at by Zack Stortini during the Marlies boxing day game against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Stortini was deservedly given five and a game.
There are a number of elements working here. The first is the presence of people like Zack Stortini playing pro hockey. The ideal of a fighter like Stortini is that he’ll protect the team’s stars from being run at. The problem is that it tends to be the guys like Stortini who run the team’s stars. With pro hockey leagues refusing to follow the path that junior leagues have made at reducing the number of specialized fighters on the ice, we’ll continue to see the NHL and AHL full of guys like Stortini. He has 104 PIMs and just a single assist in his 26 games this season.
Another element is the Leafs and Marlies organization continuing to not take any precautionary measures to prevent their players who have just been hit to the head:
Kadri is already back out there for the powerplay #MarliesLive
— Kyle Forman (@KyleForman14) December 26, 2012
Basically the Leafs’ record handling concussions is about as bad as possible. Their quiet room likely involves Skrillex and a strobe light.
— Chemmy (@felixpotvin) December 26, 2012
Chemmy nails it there. All the best for Kadri, and of course it’s better that he plays than doesn’t, but given the franchise’s track record, are we willing to bet that the Marlies did a thorough concussion exam before letting Kadri back out there, even after taking an elbow to the head?
UPDATE! Hey look, Kadri was taken out of the game!
Kadri has has fingerprints all over this game, but now he’s in the dressing room. Had rushed back for today from his hip pointer.
— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) December 26, 2012
Then there’s this…
Eakins says Kadri is experiencing headaches so they kept him off ice in third period. Doesn’t sound great.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) December 26, 2012
Look, I get that it doesn’t matter what the press is told if the team is working internally to treat concussions. However the optics of letting Gardiner and Kadri both out onto the ice without missing a shift prior to being taken out of the game for headaches doesn’t pass the sniff test, even with smelling salts.