The way the incident happened during the game and the way the team officials backpedaled and tried to justify their actions days later is eerily reminiscent of the Dale Weise concussion against the Rangers last spring. Both athletes were visibly staggered during play and needed a teammate to help them stay upright. They were examined by training staff, both “passed the concussion protocol”, and were allowed to return to game action, even though a player acting or seeming dazed should immediately lead to them being taken out of the game and re-evaluated the next day.
In both cases, the teams bring up the fact that the athlete wanted to return to action to exculpate themselves.
In both cases, it seems the head coach wasn’t made aware of the fact his player had had ‘his bell rung’, and there seemed to be a lack of communication between the coaching and training staff.
Where the narratives diverge is with what excuse the teams are taking refuge behind. The Canadiens said they’d followed NHL protocols to the letter. Michigan head coach Brady Hoke seemed to as late as two days later still be unaware that his QB had sustained a concussion, and talked about the ankle injury he’d suffered.
In this case, it does seem as if the ankle injury and his difficulty walking masked the concussion symptoms to an extent, but critics are pointing out that the severity of Mr. Morris’ limp should have lead to him being removed from the game in the first place, leaving him in the game was like leading a lamb to slaughter. With no mobility, he was a sitting duck. Sure enough, on the very next play, a defensive lineman got a clean shot at him and concussed him.
I’ve been very supportive of the Marc Bergevin administration, I like the philosophy, the approach he’s taken to building a team, and the means he’s employing, assembling a team of equals to out-brainpower any other team. This specific case though, the way the Dale Weise concussion was handled, is a definite black mark against the Nouveau Régime, as previously outlined in the excerpt below.
The matter of Dale Weise’s concussion was brought up again, and Mr. Bergevin took refuge behind the fact that the NHL’s concussion protocol was followed to the letter. He repeated that the doctors examined him and said he was okay, the player said he was okay, so he was allowed to continue to play. Reporters tried to grill him on whether the team tried to avoid the ‘c’ word to prevent the need for Dale to sit out seven days, and Marc Bergevin explained that the seven-day thing is no longer in effect, but you could tell that he is uncomfortable dealing with this.
It’s clear to anyone who saw Dale Weise after the head shot that he was stunned, visibly unstable. According to guidelines I found after the briefest of Google searches, that is an immediate, unquestionable symptom of concussion, and information sheets advise that an athlete who displays that symptom should be taken out of the game/event, and re-evaluated the next day. It seems like basic stuff, yet the Canadiens missed or ignored it. If the Canadiens did follow the protocol, then the protocol itself is faulty and needs serious revision. Mostly every observer was surprised that Dale made his way back on the bench, and in this case, the fans and journos were right and the pros were wrong.