Despite the unfortunate result, after yesterday’s impressive performance against the Rangers, all that fans could have hoped for was a quiet Sunday.
Unfortunately, another off-ice news story has spun things sideways after TSN’s Rick Westhead shared an article on Twitter originating out of Sweden.
The Swedish publication Aftonbladet highlighted some comments made by Senators goaltender Anders Nilsson during his studio work for a Viasat hockey broadcast last weekend. Nilsson shed light on the concussions that prematurely ended his career at just 31 years of age.
The entire article can be translated through Google, but a Swedish hockey contact translated the important Nilsson’s comments for me.
“I didn’t even get to see a doctor. I suffered a big hit two months before I got my ‘official’ concussion,’ explained Nilsson. “The club hid it, said I did not suffer a concussion.
“‘If you don’t have a headache you don’t have a concussion’, they said. That was the (physiotherapist), I did not get to see a doctor. Looking back at it, I was concussed, played on, got hit with another shot – and that was career-ending.”
The video of Nilsson’s appearance can be found here.
The timing of Nilsson’s comments is interesting considering how Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk launched NeurolignFit last month. When a former player uses a public platform to state that an organization failed to diagnose a health problem, it never looks good. When it happens to an organization whose owner is invested in health technology that promotes brain health, it looks even worse.
During his time in the league, Anders Nilsson was widely regarded as one of the most thoughtful and progressive players in the league. He was a strong proponent of LGBTQ rights and inclusiveness in hockey. Knowing that, it would seem out of character to just throw this out there without there being any substance to it.
Without more context, it is hard to know whether this is a situation in which the player is looking back in retrospect and believing that he should have done something differently. Nilsson may have simply taken the Senators’ physiotherapist at his word because he wasn’t experiencing the traditional symptoms like headaches — which in turn, caused him to return to play earlier than he should have and subsequently ended his career.
It is a terrible sequence of events and obviously when it comes to injuries and the health of an individual, one would like to give the specialists the benefit of the doubt. Given what we know about brain injuries, CTE, and the impact that concussions can have on the lives of individuals long after their playing careers are over, hopefully, this is not an instance where the organization ignorantly looked the other way.
Of course, it does not look good that Nilsson stated that the Senators “hid” his first concussion, but hopefully it is just a misunderstanding or mischaracterization of what happened.
This could lead to an NHL investigation into the matter, but for an organization that desperately needs all of this market’s attention to be on its young talent and their progression as players, the last thing the Senators need is another negative PR hit.