Toronto Maple Leafs centre Mikhail Grabovski is the talk of the hockey world today after taking two big hits from Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara during last night's game then returning to score a spectacular winning goal with 61 seconds left in a 4-3 win.
Grabovski appeared stunned after taking the second hit from Chara, crumpling to the ice and then falling as he attempted to get up. Grabovski was later seen using smelling salts on the bench.
"I feel bruise in my eyes," Grabovski told AM640 after the game. "But like I tell it before, it give me more motivation to play harder."
Leafs general manager Brian Burke said today that Grabovski did not suffer a concussion during the game.
"He would not have been allowed to return to play had he exhibited any symptoms of concussion," Burke said via e-mail.
Burke added that Grabovski would not need to see a specialist today given a concussion had already been ruled out.
Burke then expanded on his comments on The Fan 590 radio station later in the day.
"Our trainer is supposed to examine a player and make a determination," Burke said. "If he has concussion symptoms, at all, he's done for the night.
"He had no symptoms after the hit, none postgame, none this morning. This is a player with no symptoms."
Burke said the Leafs would not and did not put Grabovski "at risk."
"The last question I ask a doctor before he returns a player to play ... is 'if this were your son, would you allow him back on the ice?'" Burke said. "We don't put players at risk. Mikhail Grabovski's too important to us to put him at risk. You can get your bell rung and not get a concussion. It happens and any doctor will tell you that.
"I think our fans should understand the concussion protocol when a player comes back to the bench ... Our trainer is Andy Playter and he's first rate, he went right to Grabo and said 'How are you?' [Grabovski]had total recall, he said the puck hit the crossbar, like total recall on the situation. No blackout, no loss of memory, no dizziness, no nausea.
"And so the trainer said to him 'Are you good to go?' and he said yeah he got it in the jaw. He said he just got it in the jaw and was disoriented. No symptoms."
The NHL's concussion protocol is laid out clearly on its website, with the head of the league and players' union's Concussion Working Group Dr. Ruben Echemendia describing the process.
"When a player comes off the ice and is suspected of having a concussion, the team athletic trainer, typically on the bench, will do an initial evaluation," Enchemendia said. "If that evaluation raises concern with respect to concussion, then that player is taken to the dressing room, where a more extensive evaluation is undertaken by the team physician and the team athletic trainer.
"If at that time the player is determined to have had a concussion, then that triggers the concussion protocol, which means the player must be kept out of play until they are symptom-free, both at rest and on exertion.
"They are also then tested with a neuropsychological -- fairly extensive neuropsychological test battery conducted by the conducting neuropsychologist for each team. Those test data in consultation then go to the team physician, who integrates all of the data and makes the return-to-play decision."
In the midst of a breakout season, Grabovski is the Leafs leading goal scorer and is tied for 15th in the NHL with 24 after 56 games. He is expected to play tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.
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