Schenn can't recall memorable hit, grateful he was only slightly hurt
Brayden Schenn can't remember being knocked headfirst into boards by Caps rookie, but says he has only a sore neck, stiff back.
THE LAST THING Brayden Schenn remembers is picking up the puck in the corner.
He does not know whether he saw Tom Wilson barreling down on him like a freight train. He does not remember getting to his knees. He does not remember falling twice, wobbling and struggling to get up, or even lying on the ice with his face buried in his hands.
Only one thing comes to mind from Tuesday night.
"I just remember how hard the top of my head actually hit the boards," Schenn said. "I feel I got really lucky. I don't think I've ever gone headfirst into the boards like that before, without even my arms under me. But I really don't remember much of the play at all."
Amazingly, Schenn escaped from the thunderous hit - one that easily could have ended his career - mostly unscathed. The charge put the fear of God inside Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, a notoriously tough hockey man who has been around the NHL for nearly 40 years.
"I was worried; I didn't feel very good for a period of time," Holmgren said. "I don't go downstairs between periods to check on a guy's injury, but . . . right now, we're just thankful that he's OK."
Schenn underwent X-rays to check his neck and back for fractures. He did not undergo a concussion baseline test, despite the obvious head trauma. He said that's because he did not feel any symptoms once he made it to the locker room.
"I felt fine as soon as I got off the ice," Schenn said. "I don't have any symptoms or anything like that. I didn't see stars. I didn't feel slow. I didn't have any headaches.
"I've had concussions before; I know what they're like. I had it a month at a time [in December 2011]. I didn't have any symptoms."
Schenn did not appear to lose consciousness for any length of time following the hit. He still could have suffered a concussion on the play, which makes it surprising the Flyers did not at least mandate a baseline test. According to online medical encyclopedias, amnesia (memory loss) is one of the primary determinants of a concussion.
Instead, Schenn stood in the middle of the Flyers' dressing room yesterday and explained what he could recall, with only a sore neck and stiff upper back.
There is a chance Schenn could even be in the lineup when the Flyers host Columbus tonight. Holmgren officially labeled Schenn as "questionable."
"I guess we'll see how [today] goes," Schenn said. "It depends. I'll see how I feel. I think my mobility is something [to watch]."
Wilson might not be available for the Capitals tomorrow night in Carolina. Despite pleas from Capitals coach Adam Oates, GM George McPhee and even captain Alex Ovechkin, all claiming the hit was clean, Wilson will have a supplementary league discipline hearing at noon today with Brendan Shanahan.
The hearing will take place over the phone, meaning any possible suspension would be limited to five games or fewer. There have been 22 suspensions totaling 90 games lost so far this season - and another hearing was held yesterday for Detroit's Kyle Quincey.
Schenn said Wilson, a 19-year-old rookie and first-round pick, sent him a text message to apologize for the hit. Both players are represented by Newport Sports Management in Toronto. The two fought each other on Nov. 1 in the Flyers' 7-0 blowout loss, but Schenn said they had talked on the ice previously and there were no hard feelings.
"He reached out to me; he's a classy guy," Schenn said. "I don't think his intention was to hit me from behind. I don't think anyone's trying to hurt each other out there, that's for sure."
Flyers coach Craig Berube held firm on his opinion yesterday, saying Wilson "went in there recklessly and it's up to players to control themselves." Berube said the response from Oates and the rest of the Capitals was to simply defend their player.
Video of the hit is available at www.philly.com/frequentflyers.
"Everybody has an opinion," Holmgren said. "It's polarizing, because it looks bad. Brayden maybe put himself in an awkward position, because he turned away. But I think the onus falls more on the guy coming to make the hit when players are in an awkward position on the boards."
Holmgren didn't totally absolve Schenn - or any player receiving a check - from blame in this situation. Players can't just turn away from a check and put themselves in a dangerous situation with the thinking that an opposing player will stop. Schenn could not confirm or deny he saw Wilson coming, since he doesn't remember the hit.
"You've got to be aware," Holmgren said. "There's a good chance somebody's coming to take the puck from you or trying to hit you. There has to be some awareness on the part of the player, just like when you're skating through the middle of the ice. It's a tactic these days, for sure [to turn away]. But a guy going in to make that hit has to go in a 'contained mode' and not a 'hit mode.' There's tremendous speed in the game. Players are bigger, stronger, faster; something bad could happen."
A catastrophic, life-altering change very nearly happened. At this rate, it's only a matter of time before one NHL player isn't as lucky as Schenn.
"People don't realize how fast the game happens," Schenn said. "Guys are fast, strong, powerful. There's not much interference run out there. He's a big, strong boy who plays the game hard. He did have a lot of speed coming in. He took a couple of hard strides and finished the check. It was pretty tough to watch the replay."