Edmonton Oilers captain (and general hockey marvel) Connor McDavid took issue with the NHL’s concussion protocol on Sunday.
In the midst of a tight 1-1 game at home with the Minnesota Wild, McDavid tripped over Wild forward Jared Spurgeon’s stick and fell jaw-first into the ice. His head bouncing, and his immediate reaction as he got up, was apparently enough for the NHL’s concussion spotter to take him off the ice.
McDavid returned shortly thereafter, but the Wild prevailed in the shootout. During the postgame scrum with the media, McDavid did not mince words about his displeasure with the spotter.
For the video-impaired (emphasis ours):
“I was pretty shocked to be honest,” McDavid said. “I hit my mouth on the ice. You reach up and grab your mouth when you get hit in the mouth. It’s a pretty normal thing. Obviously, the spotter thought he knew how I was feeling and he pulled me off.
“Sh***y time in the game, too, I guess. It’s a little bit of a partial five-on-three and a power play late in the second period where if you capitalize, it could change the game.
“It kind of sucks because that’s the rule. You go down, you hit your head, you reach up and that’s the rule. They take you off the ice.
“I hit my head. Well, I hit my mouth, reached up and grabbed my mouth and they took that as something that it wasn’t. I guess that’s the rule. The guy stuck to the script and did his job.”
The words don’t do his feeling justice on their own; McDavid seemed obviously disgruntled about it.
This is the first time the NHL’s concussion protocol has come under fire from one of the league’s most prominent players. The NHL released updated rules to the protocol before the season, pointing out that a team of player safety people are helping make the calls as well as the in-game spotters. Here’s what the league said about spotters:
In-Arena Spotters also have received training on the visible signs of concussion and will be assigned to ensure that they will be dedicated solely to the spotting function during games in which they have been designated as the In-Arena Spotter. The In-Arena League Spotters will observe games live, in the arenas. While all Spotters (Central and In-Arena) will be able to communicate freely with one another during games, only the Central League Spotter will communicate with the Club’s medical staff if a Player requires removal and evaluation under the Protocol.
So, essentially, that means that more than just the in-arena spotter thought McDavid’s fall was worthy of an evaluation. They’re doing their jobs, and McDavid is doing his job as a player to grumble about not being on the ice.
But since it’s McDavid, the brightest star in the NHL, don’t be surprised if this story lingers a bit further as the league continually examines its protocols.