Kyle Dubas provided an update on the status of John Tavares before Game 2 on Saturday.
I just wanted to take this opportunity this morning to provide an update on John Tavares following the incident in Game 1 against Montreal. As everybody of course saw, John was stretchered off the ice and transported along with our medical director, Dr. Noah Forman, to St. Michael’s Hospital in downtown Toronto. Once at St. Michael’s, John received a CT scan and an MRI. Along with Dr. Forman, he was consulted with the lead neurosurgeon and neuroradiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital. Thankfully, he was cleared of all structural damage to his head, neck, and spine, which was a major concern at the time of the incident. We are thankful for that.
John was admitted into the hospital overnight for observation and was discharged yesterday morning and returned home with Dr. Forman. He has been with his family since then. Under the close watch and medical care of Dr. Forman and our staff here, John was diagnosed with a concussion and also sustained a knee injury on the play. It was a similar injury to the one sustained by Zach Hyman in Vancouver in the regular season. It will be a minimum of two weeks with that.
Obviously, our primary concern is the concussion and making sure he returns to full health. On that note, we just want to thank, first and foremost, our medical team led by Dr. Noah Forman, Dr. John Theodoropolous, and Paul Ayotte for their immediate care for John on the ice, the paramedics on site, the physicians, the neurosurgery team at St. Michael’s Hospital, and the Montreal Canadiens’ medical staff who came right out onto the ice to assist John and our medical staff.
That is the update on John’s medical situation. I have been in close touch with him. He is resting at home. He is recovering. For that, we are thankful.
I did also want to take this time… I know our players and coaching staff are focused on Game 2 here tonight, but I did want to address one other issue on behalf of our organization and, most importantly, our players and their families. I think that situations like this garner a significant amount of coverage, but as an organization, we felt yesterday that the Toronto Sun’s cover of their newspaper crossed a line. We found the cover to be disgusting.
I understand and we understand here that writers and columnists have no input into the covers or headlines, but we just thought it was extraordinarily insensitive on the part of The Sun with regards to the photo and the caption that accompanied the situation. It was just a complete lack of passion and respect on behalf of The Sun towards John and his family, especially for such an upstanding member of our organization and our community, and his family, who had to endure that.
Beyond that, I just want to thank all of the teams in the NHL who have reached out, including many, many different players, after seeing the incident — different NHL GMs, and mostly every NHL team, we have heard from. I think it shows the type of league we are in. The league office itself was in touch right away. I think it just kind of shows the type of community that hockey is — especially the support of the Montreal Canadiens, their players, and their staff throughout. It has been pretty remarkable considering that we are in the middle of a playoff series against them. It has also been very moving to see fans of all other teams and their support of John and his health.
Moving forward, our focus is on John’s health and recovery, Game 2, and the series moving forward. We wanted to provide an update today.
Understanding that John’s immediate health is most important here, is there any thought on whether John Tavares might return in these playoffs?
Dubas: I think the knee injury you can give a timeline on. The head injury and the concussion is difficult to place a timeline on for when someone is going to return. We handle those in a very conservative nature and handle them very sensitively. We will follow the protocols to a T with that.
We can’t replace that element with John and can’t repair it. We have to be very careful and keep in mind that he has a young family and there is an onus on us to protect him and his future in that regard.
We will follow the protocols — the NHL concussion protocol — and consult closely with John and the experts in the field and then proceed from there.
TV cameras caught you in a state of concern when the incident occurred. What was going through your mind at the time?
Dubas: Unfortunately, we have had, in the last 15 months — between Ilya Mikheyev, Jake Muzzin, and John — situations like that where there are emergency situations on the ice — Mikheyev severing an artery and tendons, Jake with the spinal issue and injury against Columbus in Game 2, and John’s on Thursday.
The thing that goes through my mind always in those situations — in all three of them, we were either on the road in Newark or at home with no fans. The player’s family is not there. They need someone to be the conduit between them. Our medical staff, our players, and our coaches are in the game. Our medical staff is attending to an emergency situation.
I just think about my own family if something were to happen to me. I would never want them to be unaware of what is happening. Obviously, you care about the player deeply and what their status is, but you also want to be able to provide updates to the players’ families. Their partners — in Jake and John’s case — have young children as well. They are watching that from home and seeing it.
It is very helpless. Immediately, we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to provide an update to them and support the medical staff and player as things are happening frantically.
What is your sense of how the group is responding after a tough moment in Game 1?
Dubas: I think because of who John is and the level of respect not just our group has but other players have… We have had these types of situations, and I don’t know if it is the nature of it or the number of people who were watching or whatever it was, but the outpouring of support has been remarkable for John.
I think the layers and staff have done as best as they can. Knowing that there weren’t any structural injuries sustained to his neck and spine, in the last couple of days, I think they are doing as well as they can supporting one another. We are trying to support them and proceed from there.
These things are tough. These are athletes that a lot of people view as difficult to knock down or keep out. To see something in a completely accidental, freak situation happen like that makes everybody feel vulnerable, especially the players who play the game. They’re big, strong, young guys. You don’t ever imagine being in that situation.
It gives a sense of vulnerability to not only the players on our team but to both teams and throughout the league. Those are tough things to handle when you see that. As with everything, after a moment of trauma, there is some trepidation and things start to slowly return back to normal. I think our guys are handling it as well as possible.