NEW YORK - Jonas Gustavsson may not be a doctor, but he sure sparked what felt like a medical emergency around the Leafs on Thursday afternoon.
A day after pronouncing himself ready to return to action on Wednesday, by the end of the next day the team’s No. 1 netminder, James Reimer, was placed on injured reserve as he continues to recover from an injury in Montreal last week. Though originally diagnosed as a neck problem, it is clear that the Leafs are treating it as a possible head injury.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Gustavsson apparently spoke out of turn when he suggested in a scrum after the morning skate that his goaltending partner had suffered a concussion.
That led to a flurry of denials from the top of the Leafs management chain on down and a third start in the past four games for Gustavsson. Later in the day, the team acknowledged that Reimer is being treated for concussion-like symptoms, which is not necessarily to say he’s concussed.
Confused? Join the club.
“The doctors haven’t said that to me and the last time I checked I don’t have a medical degree and I don’t think the Monster does either,” Wilson said when asked if Reimer had suffered a concussion. “Until we are told that, this is a day-to-day thing. He was fine (on Wednesday). After the practice he didn’t feel 100 per cent so we decided to shut him down for a day.”
Turns out it will be more than a day as the team later placed Reimer on injured reserve which means he won’t be eligible to return until Sunday’s game against the Senators in Ottawa.
“It’s a low-level headache which could be the result of several things. We’re treating symptoms as if it’s a head and or neck injury,” Maple Leafs senior vice-president of hockey operations Dave Nonis said last night.
As with any injury above the shoulders, there is always serious concern until a player is back on the ice in a game situation. The Leafs remain hopeful Reimer will be back in action Sunday against the Senators but will be holding their breath until it happens.
The fiasco all began on Saturday when Reimer was run over by Montreal forward Brian Gionta in the first period. Though he looked woozy, Reimer stayed in for the remainder of the period but was replaced the rest of the way by Gustavsson. Diagnosed with a whiplash and sore neck, Reimer was given Monday off in Philly then returned to the ice for a busy 90-minute practice here on Wednesday.
Afterwards Wilson said his No. 1 netminder approached him and said he wasn’t ready to return.
It became clear that something was up when Ben Scrivens, who earned a shutout for the Marlies the night before, walked into Madison Square Garden for the morning skate. Leafs senior vice-president of hockey operations, Dave Nonis said the team was being “cautious” in their handling of the second-year NHLer.
“Our (medical staff) is treating the symptoms, whatever they may be,” Nonis said. “He’s not feeling the right way. So we’re taking him off the ice and dealing with it that way. “We’re going to wait until he feels good before we put him into the net.”
Wilson said that Reimer was evaluated for a concussion after the initial incident.
“Any time you are hit in the head, that’s an automatic procedure,” Wilson said.
Add to the list of those denying Reimer had a concussion, his agent. Ray Petkau took to Twitter to make his point, adding that it’s “best to be cautious after (a) blow to the head.”
As for Gustavsson dropping the concussion word, Wilson sounded more miffed than angry.
“I don’t know why he said that,” Wilson said. “I have no idea why. That word hasn’t even brought up.
“He’s out there for an hour and a half yesterday and there were no issues. He just didn’t feel right after he took his shower.
“You have to be prepared. He feels much better today.”
Depends who you are listening to, it appears.