In Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, Connor McDavid stepped on Jared Spurgeon’s stick causing him to fall forward. McDavid’s chin/jaw/mouth made contact with ice and his head bounced up.
He looked stunned at first, but got up and skated off the ice holding on to his mouth.
The concussion spotter in attendance didn’t like what he saw. The spotter called down to ice level and had McDavid summoned back to the locker room to undergo the concussion protocol.
The young super star was clearly annoyed at having to leave to be checked out.
After being accidentally tripped and hitting his chin on the ice @cmcdavid97 has to leave the ice for concussion protocol. pic.twitter.com/8NFkpVthqh
— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) December 5, 2016
After the game, McDavid spoke to the media about his reaction to being told he had to leave the game for evaluation:
“I was pretty shocked to be honest. I hit my mouth on the ice. You reach up and grab your mouth when you get hit in the mouth. It’s a pretty normal thing. Obviously, the spotter thought he knew how I was feeling and he pulled me off.
“Sh***y time in the game too, I guess. It’s a little bit of a partial five-on-three and a power play late in the second period where if you capitalize, it could change the game.
“It kind of sucks because that’s the rule. You go down, you hit your head, you reach up and that’s the rule. They take you off the ice.
“I hit my head. Well, I hit my mouth, reached up and grabbed my mouth and they took that as something that it wasn’t. I guess that’s the rule. The guy stuck to the script and did his job.”
There are two interesting things to come out of this.
First, up to this point of his career McDavid has really toed the company line. He says all the right things in interviews and behaves himself as he been programmed to do.
This is the first time we really see McDavid step outside of the canned soundbites and give his opinion. He’s always been careful not to ruffle feathers for undue media attention. This is going to perk up the ears at the NHL offices because their superstar publicly admitted he wasn’t happy with a safety measure.
Which leads to the second point. McDavid went back to the fact he hit his mouth and grabbed it, and that’s what led to the spotter calling him back. (Who knows what he was told by the spotter when he was in the room.)
It feels like McDavid might have a misconception of what the spotter is looking for. Staying down on the ice or looking woozy are indicators of a concussion, but as we’ve seen with many players, those symptoms don’t always develop at the time.
What the spotter was doing was not only his job, but also covering his butt. We’ve seen way more vicious incidents than McDavid’s fall that spotters didn’t call back to the room. This is the future of the NHL who just slammed his face on the ice. If you’re in that position, what would you do?
Thankfully McDavid was cleared after undergoing the concussion protocol and was able to finish the game.