Consistency and head hits in hockey…

There was an interesting set of events in the games tonight surrounding the concussion protocol in the NHL. In the Sharks/Blues game, St. Louis goaltender Halak was run over and hit in the head by one of his own guys, requiring some time to get his bearings. Even though he ultimately wanted to continue, the trainer convinced him to go off the ice, and he was replaced by Elliot. The original report on him was that Halak was going to return, but evidently something tightened up, because later, he was reported as having a lower body injury and day to day. Elliot finished the game (and won), and the Blues have said they’ll take their third goalie with them to San jose just in case.

Then later, Phoenix goalie Mike Smith got run over (and the blackhawks player got a game misconduct for it) and went to the ice clutching his face and head and stayed down an extended period. It was serious enough that the team doctor went onto the ice. Ultimately, unlike Halak, Smith was allowed to continue and finish the game.

My question is — WHY? That clearly seems to fall under the “go to the quiet room” protocol, but that wasn’t invoked on him. IMHO, the hit on Smith was a harder head hit than Halak got. The Blues trainer did the correct thing by insisting Halak go get checked out. The only possible explanation for Phoenix was the doctor on the ice checked Smith out on ice and cleared him — but even so, as I understand the protocol, he still should have been sent to the quiet room.

This seems like a mistake by the Phoenix medical staff. I understand why they’d want Smith in there, and why he’d want to continue — but I do hope the league looks into this and explains why both medical teams made the right decision, or if not, how they plan to make sure the right thing happens in the future. I think smith was allowed to put his head at risk for more serious injury by not going off for evaluation, and I don’t understand why the medical staff and referees didn’t force this issue, when it seems they should have.

(FWIW, it looks like the hit by the Chicago player was unintentional to me, not on purpose. But the major penalty was still the correct call. And it may be that Smith took the brunt of the hit to his jaw and possibly bit his tongue (which HURTS), but even so, I’d really like to hear why he wasn’t sent to the quiet room. “it’s the playoffs” is not an acceptable answer.