By Chris Block
First off, the Blackhawks have indicated that Brent Seabrook will play tonight in Pittsburgh when Chicago meets the injury-plagued Penguins.
NHL head of discipline Brendan Shanahan suspended Calgary Flames’ winger Rene Bourque two games for his check from behind on Brent Seabrook in Sunday’s game at United Center.
Bourque, a close friend of Seabrook’s, drove the Blackhawks’ defenseman head first into the glass along the boards inside Chicago’s zone with 4:35 remaining in the opening period of a 4-2 Hawks victory.
Seabrook appeared to be momentarily knocked out after his head was driving into the glass just above the boards, the area of the glass with the least give. Seabrook was able to get up under his own power and skate off the ice, but he was ruled out of the game by Blackhawks doctors during the first intermission.
Seabrook has had two known concussion in the past 21 months. The most recent, came on the brutal hit Raffi Torres threw on Seabrook behind the Blackhawks’ net during Game 3 of the 2011 opening round playoff series with Vancouver.
The other, also coming from a friend and former Blackhawk teammate, occurred when James Wisniewski took an eight stride run at Seabrook in Anaheim on St. Patrick’s Day 2010.
In both instances, Seabrook missed the next two games, no more. After the Torres hit, Seabrook was actually going to keep playing and had to be pulled off the bench by team trainers when everyone was reminded of new league protocol that Seabrook had to leave the game and visit the “quiet room” and be examined for fifteen minutes. He then missed the remainder of that game, plus Games 4 and 5 as well.
Seabrook could just very well be a quick healer. But how much longer will that last and why is the team being lax in handling this player’s well being? Most players will always want to get right back onto the ice. The decision shouldn’t be theirs alone and sometimes common sense should prevail over persuasion or results of a subjective assessment test.
Recently Sidney Crosby underwent a concussion evaluation exam and doctors said he did not have one. But Crosby claims to have symptoms and is sitting out until they subside, test results or not.
Recently NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has defended the league’s handling of concussions. He’s also said there is nothing more the league can do to prevent severe concussions.
I wonder what Bill Daly would have to say today about a player (Seabrook), with a recent history of head trauma, who was obviously at least momentarily knocked out on the ice on Sunday night, suiting up and back in action 48 hours later?
He’d probably say all the appropriate measures were taken and Seabrook was fit to play. Seabrook may have convinced Blackhawks doctors he’s okay.
However, common sense tells you its not an intelligent decision to throw Seabrook right back out there 48 hours after that hit.
Short memories abound here too. Was nothing learned from the Sidney Crosby situation?
Tonight the red-hot Blackhawks face a team besieged with injuries. Its a non-conference opponent as well. The Hawks carry eight defensemen on their roster. There is absolutely no reason to rush Seabrook back into the line up.
Common sense – No. Cross your fingers? Yes.
Its just plain dumb.