As if simply losing goalie Jimmy Howard to what was then described as an "upper-body injury" isn't angst-causing enough, after tonight's overtime loss to the Predators we get reports like the following from the Red Wings' beat writers:
Babcock said Jimmy Howard hit by puck in practice, vision blurry. #RedWings— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) February 19, 2013
There's something just wrong with that, and it's something wrong with hockey culture.
Update on #RedWings G Jimmy Howard: Blurred vision after getting banged around in practice. Babcock wasn't aware. Howard to see doctor Wed.— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) February 19, 2013
I know no one wants to say it, but what injury could one have that would be caused by "getting banged around in practice" that could cause blurry vision? A concussion. A brain injury that you cannot just play through.
If it's true that Mike Babcock really didn't know about it until Howard told him in the middle of the game (the fact that Jonas Gustavsson wasn't prepared to take over until after Howard went to the dressing room would seem to back that up), shame on Howard himself.
I know a competitor like Howard would want to try to shake it off, but this is part of why the NHL is having trouble getting "head shots" out of the game. The players themselves don't realize how serious of an injury it is. Howard has to be smart enough to say that he's hurt and can't go.
Hopefully it turns out that he's okay this time. Whether he is or isn't, he took a risk he shouldn't have.
Patrick Eaves just missed a year with post-concussion symptoms. We're not too far removed from Andreas Lilja doing the same. This team knows what a head injury can mean. They have to keep that in mind when things like this come up.
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