It sucked all the air out of the arena: the sight of Daniel Sedin, the star Vancouver Canuck, prone on the ice on his back after being pushed into the boards by Paul Byron.
“He’s okay,” said John Tortorella at about 9:15 p.m., about 1 ½ hours after the hit.
Sedin was later released from hospital.
At 8:27 p.m., an half hour after Sedin left Rogers Arena in an ambulance, strapped to a stretcher, his head and chin secured, the Canucks said he had “exhibited signs of movement to his extremities.” He showed improvement from the initial hit and was described in stable condition. He was heading to nearby Vancouver General Hospital, where there would be evaluation and imaging. "No assessment will be made until completion of this evaluation," said the Canucks.
The hit happened with 2:44 left in the second period in the final regular season game of the NHL’s 2013-14 season. After extensive assessment on the ice, Sedin was fitted with a neck brace and wheeled away on a stretcher to the locker room. Sedin generally did not to move while he lay on the ice in the corner on the east side of the arena, though a television replay seemed to show him moving his fingers.
Initial concern was high enough that Daniel’s twin brother, Henrik, also left the ice to be with his brother. Before the third period began, at 7:59 p.m. PT, Daniel Sedin was taken from the locker room and wheeled out of the arena by paramedics.
Henrik, however, rejoined his teammates for the third period on the ice, in a meaningless game between two teams who will not play in the playoffs.
Henrik suggested after the game the move to the hospital was “precautionary” and that he had spoken with Daniel after he left the ice. Henrik was planning to head to the hospital and did not speak specifically to whether Daniel showed more significant signs of movement. Henrik noted at first the hit did not seem rough but then his brother did not move.
“He always comes right back,” said Henrik.
Daniel Sedin, 33, has had a difficult season, his worst in a decade. On Sunday night, he scored two goals, his first multi-goal game of 2013-14.
Bryon received a five-minute penalty for boarding and a game misconduct for his hit on Sedin.
Sedin has mostly been free of injury in his career and his most concerning injury was a major concussion in March, 2012, when he was elbowed in the head by Chicago's Duncan Keith and he then missed a month of hockey.
Sedin's head took much of the brunt of Byron's check as he was shoved into the boards.
The Canucks won the game 5-1. The team will likely have the sixth pick at the NHL draft in June, while the Flames will likely pick fourth. The Canucks clean out their lockers on Monday morning, and speak with reporters starting at 10 a.m. PT.
The Sedin injury punctuates the end of a difficult season, one that started fairly well and spiralled downwards starting in January. Including the five goals on Sunday night, the Canucks reached just 191 for the season (excluding shootout goals), which is the fewest in the four-plus decade history of the team.
For the Flames, a positive note was their lone goal scorer, 20-year-old Johnny Gaudreau playing his first NHL game after on Friday being named the best player in college hockey in the United States. Gaudreau is small for an NHLer, 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds, but was immediately impressive as a pro, and to his boosters evokes Paul Kariya, a small player who was also college player of the year before starring in the NHL.