During the first period of play on Saturday night, Trevor Letowski was knocked out of the game by a blind-side hit from Colby Armstrong. After making a cross ice pass to a teammate just inside the Penguins' zone, Letowski was looking in the direction of his pass. Although the puck had been gone for two beats or more, Colby Armstrong delivered a big hit on the unsuspecting Letowski, making shoulder-to-chin contact from the blind side, knocking him face-first onto the ice. He lay motionless and limp in a pool of blood for several minutes before being removed from the ice on a stretcher and rushed to a Pittsburgh hospital.
For just about everyone on the Canes bench, this immediately brought to mind the horror that took place there on March 4. Although this was the second time in as many visits to the Mellon Arena that a Canes player has had to be rushed to the hospital, this one was quite a bit different. In this case, it really does look like the hit was just one of those unfortunate things. I haven't examined the tape with a microscope, but it looked like Armstrong made an attempt to ease up on the hit, and I have no doubt in my mind that there was absolutely no intent to injure. The League may, however, investigate the hit. They have been making a concerted effort to crack down on hits delivered above the shoulder. This definitely was above the shoulder. I won't be calling for any disciplinary action, but I wouldn't be surprised if the League hands down a light suspension/fine.
In stark contrast to the still controversial Brooks Orpik hit on Erik Cole, Armstrong immediately showed an interest in the well-being of the injured player. The look on his face, his eyes, showed that. Instead of vehemently defending his actions or blaming the injured player, Armstrong told reporters that he felt "awful" and "sick to (his) stomach" and that he had a hard time focusing on the game. In post game interviews, he apparently made serious efforts to get an update on Letowski's status.
The "good" news is that after undergoing a battery of tests, Letowski was diagnosed with a concussion and was released. He'll probably have to miss some games, but for now, that sounds like good news. With the way he went down, and the blood and the motionlessness, and all that, things looked very bad.
At the end of it all, I think this will simply have to be categorized as "an unfortunate thing that happened". I don't want to make a villain out of Colby Armstrong.
Hopefully, "the Dude" will be able to recover fully. Sometimes, as in the case of Tim Connolly, a concussion can cause a player to miss an entire season. Time will tell, and we're all hoping for the best.
In the meantime, Carolina will have to recall at least one, and most likely two players from Albany. My guess is that Keith Aucoin gets the call, and that we may even see defenseman Derrick Walser, who played alongside Erik Cole with the Berlin Polar Bears of the German Elite League during the lockout.
Details on Letowski as they develop.
5 years ago