Talk about adding insult to injury.
Chicago’s Kris Versteeg found himself nursing his wounds in the penalty box after an unfortunate collision with Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop left the Blackhawks winger bloodied.
Versteeg was on his way to the net when he lost the puck and was bumped by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. The Chicago forward’s momentum carried him into the crease, where he knocked over goalie Ben Bishop en route to a faceplant into the far goalpost.
Versteeg went down. Referee Wes McCauley’s arm went up. The Hawks winger went off for goaltender interference.
Versteeg was on the ice for a moment before getting back to his feet. On his way to the penalty box, he realized he might have been cut in the crash. After looking toward the bench, he headed straight to the box.
Retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser weighed in on whether Versteeg should have headed off for repairs:
Since Versteeg was going to be occupying space in the penalty box for at least two minutes, he might have been better served to have his cut attended to and be evaluated. Players typically do not want to receive any bad news that would cause them to be pulled from the ice. They sometimes avoid or reject medical attention to remain in the lineup. It’s not smart and the protocol is designed to protect the player; sometimes even from his own toughness and stubbornness.
Fraser also touched on the on-ice officials’ responsibility when it comes to a possible head injury:
The officials do not have absolute power to send a player off the ice under the concussion protocol. All they can do is recommend to the trainer that he might want to check the player out based on the official’s close observation of the player’s behavior. The responsibility then falls directly in the hands of the team’s medical professionals. There have been incidents where an official suggested to the trainer he might want to check a player out. Without hesitation, the trainer pulled the player and took him to the dressing room for observation. The only time that a referee can remove a player from the ice, under the rules for medical purposes, is if a player has an open cut or the presence of blood on his jersey.
That last bit is per Rule 8.3:
A player who is bleeding or who has visible blood on his equipment or body shall be ruled off the ice at the next stoppage of play. Such player shall not be permitted to return to play until the bleeding has been stopped and the cut or abrasion covered (if necessary).
Obviously, Versteeg’s cut was minor. He served his time, then returned to the ice with no apparent signs of injury. His team also managed to kill off the penalty, so Versteeg lucked out on both his insult and his injury.
Full Game 1 highlights: