December 27, 2011
Concussion epidemic claims Liles
By Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency
Having just finished chatting on his cell phone outside the Bank Atlantic Center on a sun-splashed Tuesday morning in South Florida, John-Michael Liles was asked how he was feeling by a couple of Toronto reporters who just happened to be walking by him at the time.
“Okay,” Liles responded.
At least not enough to keep him from being placed on IR by the Maple Leafs, a move that was confirmed by coach Ron Wilson.
Wilson said Liles is suffering from “concussion-like symptoms.” If that in fact is the case, he is not alone.
Indeed, with stars such as Sidney Crosby and Chris Pronger already sidelined with similar issues, the list of those plagued by such ailments continued to balloon on Tuesday with Liles, Nashville Predators defenceman Shea Weber and Los Angeles Kings forward Simon Gagne all finding themselves the newest victims of the NHL’s concussion craziness.
Liles was hit by the Buffalo Sabres’ Paul Gaustad on Thursday, a blow that caused the speedy defenceman to leave the game in order to be evaluated. He did return later in the Leafs’ 4-2 victory at the Air Canada Centre but did not suit up on Long Island one night later because of an ailment team officials referred to as a stiff neck.
Obviously it ended up being more significant than that.
Liles takes the blame for the Gaustad hit, feeling he should never have put himself in such a vulnerable position in the first place. In retrospect, Liles, who has proven to be one of the Leafs’ team leaders both on the ice and inside the dressing room, is probably being a bit too hard on himself.
The Leafs already are without forward Colby Armstrong, who is suffering from similar concussion-like symptoms.
“We’re shutting (Liles) down for a few days,” Wilson said after the Leafs’ morning skate on Tuesday. “He was feeling a bit better today but he’s not ready to go. If we run into a crisis, we’ll have another defenceman available in case of illness or injury.
“We just wanted to make sure you don’t over-diagnose somebody,” Wilson said. “You have to give it a couple of days. Right now it’s best that he sits out and stays away from the rink for a couple of days.
“It’s as simple as that.”
Maybe. Unfortunately, given the number of NHLers who continue to be felled by concussions, a solution to the problem is far from “simple.”