Linesman Brad Kovachik was caught between a rock and a hard place. More accurately, he was caught between the boards and a Steven Stamkos check on Kevin Klein.
Kovachik suffered a sprained MCL on the play, which will see him sidelined for the next four to six weeks. Effectively, that ends his playoff run.
“I’ll tell you one thing, I hope Brad [Kovachik] is all right,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “That didn’t look good.”
The collision happened with 7:41 left to play in the second period. The veteran linesman was helped off the ice by fellow linesman Pierre Racicot and referee Chris Rooney. Standby linesman Greg Devorski pulled on the stripes, strapped on the skates, and hit the ice to replace Kovachik for the remainder of the game.
Retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser sent his regards.
“Well-wishes to linesman Brad Kovachik, who took a big hit while holding his position on the blue line. Even after taking the hit, ‘Kovi’ demonstrated his professionalism by making the call (wave-off signal) before crumbling from the pain and being helped off the ice.”
Watch below as Kovachik absorbs the hit and signals a wash-out before dropping to the ice.
Kovachik has been an NHL linesman since 1996. He’s worked 1,221 regular season games, with 111 postseason appearances. While he won’t add to that number in this year’s playoffs, we hope to see Brad back on the ice soon.
(GIFs via @myregularface)