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Concussion Specialist Rips NHL Protocol For Allowing Pageau to Return

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New York Islanders, Jean-Gabriel Pageau

At this point, you have likely already seen the hit, deemed legal, that Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin laid on New York Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau early in the second period of Monday’s contest.

But here it is again for those that missed it along with how Jean-Gabriel Pageau looked immediately afterward, as teammate Noah Dobson had to help keep him from falling to the ice:

Pageau left with 13:25 to play in the second period but somehow was back on the bench, and the ice before the middle frame came to a close.

His first shift following the injury came at 3:51 of the second, almost a 10-minute absence.

Given how Pageau looked immediately after the hit, with the contact being towards the head area, one would think that he landed in concussion protocol.

But the fact that he was back in the game means he passed.

After the game, Islanders head coach Lane Lambert was asked if Pageau needed further evaluation.

“He was back in the game, so he should be fine,” Lambert said.

READ MORE: Islanders Lack of Retaliation Returns, No Response After Ovechkin Hit

Concussions are no joke, as the Islanders have seen with forward Kyle Palmieri and defenseman Adam Pelech.

When Palmieri suffered the latest upper-body injury, which came against the Arizona Coyotes (Dec. 16), NHL concussion spotters forced him to leave the game before he returned.

He was even made available for questions following the Islanders 5-4 loss, saying he was fine.

We haven’t talked to him since he hasn’t played in 15 games and is currently on Injured Reserve.

Pelech suffered what appeared to be a concussion against the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 6 but has not been rushed back as he has recently just joined his teammates for practice.

One could understand how Pageau was allowed to return to the game, given the NHL’s rulebook.

But that rulebook may need some correcting.

Tuesday morning, Dr. Chris Nowinski, a neuroscientist and the CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, ripped the NHL for their concussion protocol in a Twitter post.

“The NHL continues to fly under the radar with shocking concussion care,” Nowinski posted with the clip of the hit. “This is classic ataxia & in the new NFL protocol is automatic removal. Pageau was ‘evaluated’ and returned to the game.”

“Time to update the protocol Gary [Bettman]”

Ataxia is described as poor muscle control that causes clumsy, voluntary moments, per The Mayo Clinic, which is precisely what you saw from Pageau right after the hit.

Per Nowinski’s bio on his foundation website:

An All-Ivy Harvard football player-turned WWE professional wrestler-turned neuroscientist, Chris discovered the concussion crisis the hard way. A 2003 kick to the chin in a WWE match ended his career, causing Post-Concussion Syndrome and sending him to the office of his eventual CLF co-founder  Dr. Robert Cantu. Through Dr. Cantu, Chris was first exposed to medical research that revealed to him that concussions and brain trauma were misunderstood in the sports world.

From 2008-2014, Nowinski served as a co-director of the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. He currently serves as an Outreach, Recruitment, Education, and Public Policy Leader for the BU CTE Center.

Nowinski cited the NFL, who has dealt with their concussion mistakes this past season with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa–leading to an investigation.

The 24-year-old quarterback was forced to leave a Sept. 25 game against the Buffalo Bills with a concussion after banging his head on the turf.

Although he was not allowed to return to the game, Tagovailoa was back on the field four days later when the Dolphins faced the Cincinnati Bengals as he was “cleared” to return to play.

Then this happened:

Tua did return to the practice field 13 days later but suffered another concussion in a loss to the Greenbay Packers on Dec. 25, forcing him to miss their first-round matchup against the Buffalo Bills, a 34-31 defeat.

The NFL failed Tua, and the NHL is lucky that Pageau did not suffer another major hit that game, or who knows what Pageau’s status would have been.

Concussions sometimes take days before symptoms arise, so Monday night was a situation where you follow the old phrase “rather be safe than sorry.”

NYI Hockey Now reached out to deputy commissioner Bil Daley regarding Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s return to play but have not heard back yet.

Islanders Lack of Retaliation Returns, No Response After Ovechkin Hit

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