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Did Mikhail Grabovski suffer a concussion last night? Concussion debate rages on

Feb 16, 2011, 1:21 PM EDT

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Last night, Mikhail Grabovski was a hero to the Maple Leafs scoring twice including the game-winner with just over a minute to play, a goal good enough to be our goal of the night. Grabovski, however, was nearly put out of the game thanks to two wicked hits from Zdeno Chara, the last of which left him visibly dazed.

While Grabovski’s efforts were indeed heroic in leading the Leafs to victory, with concussions being the hot button topic of the day, many are wondering still a day later how in the world he was able to get back into the game and then still contribute. It’s not as if Chara is just a regular sized guy hitting you.

After the game, Grabovski told Jonas Siegel afterwards about how he felt and, well, it came off as amusing, heroic, and eyebrow-raising all at once.

“I feel bruise in my eyes,” he smiled afterwards, “but like I tell it before it give me more motivation to play harder.”

A bruise in my eyes? Well I suppose so, but that doesn’t sound healthy at all that’s for sure and after getting your head smashed into the boards, you have to worry about a head injury, especially a concussion.

Leafs GM Brian Burke made it clear today that all is well with Grabovski as he told James Mirtle of the Globe & Mail.

Leafs general manager Brian Burke said today that Grabovski did not suffer a concussion during the game.

“He would not have been allowed to return to play had he exhibited any symptoms of concussion,” Burke said via e-mail.

Burke added that Grabovski would not need to see a specialist today given a concussion had already been ruled out.

As we’ve seen in the past with some players, the concussion doesn’t always show up immediately. You could argue that that’s what happened with Sidney Crosby after being hit by David Steckel in the Winter Classic and it took taking another blow in his next game to put him out indefinitely.

Chris FitzGerald of The National Post in Canada got the take from a former NHLer that saw his career end too soon because of concussions in former Flyers standout Keith Primeau. Primeau is a major advocate of changing how things are done so players can be spared leaving the game early the way he was forced to. Playing through a possible concussion, Primeau says, should not be an option.

He said a great deal of the diagnostic procedure still relies on self-reporting from the athlete — an athlete who is often not eager to leave the field of play.

“And that’s where, subjectively, it has to change,” Primeau said. “There needs to be a much more objective approach.”

As Darren Dreger notes in his Dreger Report today, if certain changes to how the NHL handles in-game situations like this are made, situations like last night’s potentially risky heroics by Grabovski might soon become a thing of the past.

For Grabovski, or any other player who visibly displays similar symptoms next season, it could be game over.

The NHL’s Concussion Working Group met during All-Star Weekend in Raleigh and discussed developing criteria for mandatory dressing room evaluation prior to a player being able to return.

While everyone begins learning more about what goes into treating a concussion and whether or not a player has actually suffered an injury like this, the more people are going to debate this matter. Keeping the player’s health in mind is the biggest concern, but if a team’s ability to win a game is hindered by not having a definitive answer as to what’s wrong, you know that this debate will rage on even harder.

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