NHL concussion spotters yank Edmonton goalie, make presence known

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Sportsnet
Sportsnet

Cam Talbot was hot garbage in the Edmonton Oilers’ 6-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Or as coach Todd McLellan diplomatically put it: “Cam struggled immensely.”

So in the second period, after giving up four goals on 15 shots, Talbot was pulled in favor of backup Jonas Gustavsson.

The Oilers goalie change helped steady the ship, as Gustavsson faced one shot on goal during 10:04 of play.

But this collision with teammate Adam Larsson’s posterior would eventually end his night. [WATCH HERE]

Gustavsson’s head snapped to the side violently as Larsson backed into him. He continued to play in the game, however, but was pulled later in the period as Talbot returned.

The reason? The NHL’s concussion spotters protocol mandated it.

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“It was a part of the night that was strange to begin with,” McLellan said. “I pulled Talbs, Gus goes in. He gets run over. They have spotters, and if they think that the individual player or the goaltender has to come out because of a head injury, then he has to come out. It was phoned in to our trainer. Cam went back in, and the [injured] goaltender’s not allowed back in. That’s all I know right now.”

According to Jason Gregor, Gustavsson was pulled on the suggestion from an independent concussion spotter in the arena, rather than one of the newly empowered ones watching on television back in the NHL war room.

So hey, the protocol worked! The Oilers left a player in the game that in all likelihood should have come out, and the spotters notified the team that he needed to be pulled.

As Darren Dreger noted, there’s a $25,000 first-offense fine for violating a request from a spotter or an on-ice official that a player needs to be removed from a game – and fines grow exponentially after that.

This is promising. Still, we’d like to see how well this protocol is enforced when it’s a vital late-season game and not, like, Oilers and Sabres before Halloween.


Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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