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Toews admits he played with concussion symptoms

Nov 15, 2012, 1:16 PM EDT

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Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews maintains he was symptom-free and “felt 100 percent” when he returned to Chicago’s line-up for the playoffs after sitting out two months with a concussion.

Except now he admits he wasn’t 100 percent.

“Even if you don’t feel something and you think you’re symptom-free, there’s probably still something there that’s kind of hindering you and affecting the way your brain works,” Toews told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday. “It was just a lot of eye-movement things. My eyes didn’t track very well. They didn’t look from one target to the next very well. My balance with my eyes closed and my head turned a certain way was terrible. (There were) little things that I would think were normal because I didn’t feel something in my head.”

Toews spent last week in Atlanta at a chiropractic neurology facility where he says his problems were solved once and for all; however, the fact he played with symptoms (even if he didn’t know they were symptoms) won’t help the reputation of a Blackhawks organization that’s already faced questions about its concussion protocol.

In February, it was reported that Toews may have hidden his symptoms from the Blackhawks soon after he sustained the injury. And even in today’s concussion-sensitive era, players are going to do that.

But when Toews says, “My balance with my eyes closed and my head turned a certain way was terrible,” we can’t help but wonder if Chicago’s medical staff should have been able to identify that.

It always did seem a little curious that Toews was cleared to play just in time for the first game of the postseason.

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