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Monday, April 21, 2014

Lightning's Steven Stamkos suffers possible concussion, returns to game

By on 4/21/2014 07:00:00 AM

The NHL may be in hot water after what happened during the second period of game three between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning.

With 3:51 remaining in the second period, Steven Stamkos took a knee to the head that left him on the ice for minutes.

He got tangled up with Brandon Prust and as Canadien Alexei Emelin tried to jump over Stamkos to avoid him, his right knee struck Stamkos in the head. Stamkos attempted to get up and skate to the bench but fell again before going to one knee, where he was met by Lightning trainers. He ended up skating to the Lightning dressing room under his own power, where he underwent concussion protocol.

And then Stamkos returned to start the third period. It's here where this becomes a possible nightmare for the Lightning and the NHL. 
Concussions have become a hot topic around the sports world over the last few years, and it's widely accepted that the safety of the players trumps any argument for returning to game action.

The NHL's concussion protocol requires players to leave the bench to be examined for a possible concussion.

Under NHL rules:
If a player is suspected of having a concussion, that player shall be removed from play at minimum until the player is symptom free at rest and with strenuous activity, and the player has returned to his cognitive baseline . . . 
With this rule, there's two options for the way Tampa Bay treated Stamkos. Option number one: Stamkos was deemed to not be concussed because his headache magically disappeared and it was like nothing happened. The suspicion of having a concussion was gone and Stamkos was allowed to return to the game.

Option number two: the Lightning allowed Stamkos to play because he insisted on returning to an incredibly important playoff game, despite the fact that he may have suffered a concussion.

If the latter is true - which seems to be considering Stamkos reportedly complained of a headache - then the Tampa Bay Lightning may be in trouble and the NHL may be forced to alter their concussion protocol akin to how the NFL handles theirs.

In the NFL, a player suspected of a concussion is immediately removed from the game with no opportunity to return. No grey area.

This grey area in the NHL might be putting players safety - and even lives - at risk.


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