NHL Referee Pierre Lambert was injured after being hit by a puck.
Lambert was hit in the head by a clearing attempt during an April 3 game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings.
The official attempted to remain in the game, staying on his skates. He hung in there until the next stoppage in play, which came on a goal by San Jose’s Timo Meier. After the whistle, Lambert appeared unsteady and was helped off the ice.
No word on if one of the NHL’s concussion spotters flagged Lambert for an evaluation.
“These are off-ice officials who are designated exclusively to watch the game for visible signs of concussion,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly previously told The Athletic, about the league’s concussion protocol.
NHL Concussion Protocol requires a player be removed for evaluation in cases of a suspected concussion. One would imagine the same standards apply to officials, though they are not specifically named in the protocol.
If any of the following visible signs occurs after a direct blow to the head or a blow to the body that causes acceleration/deceleration of the head (“indirect blow to the head”), the Club shall remove the Player from the playing environment and escort the player to a distraction-free environment for an acute evaluation:
a) “Lying Motionless on the Ice”: A Player lies motionless on the ice or falls to the ice in an unprotected manner (i.e., without stretching out his hands or arms to lessen or minimize his fall).
b ) “Motor Incoordination/Balance Problems”: A Player staggers, struggles to get up or skate properly, appears to lose his balance, buckles, trips or falls, or stumbles while getting up, trying to get up, or skating.
c ) “Blank or Vacant Look”: A Player has a blank or vacant look.
d ) “Slow to Get Up” or “Clutches his Head”
Lambert appeared to be exhibiting some of those symptoms during his conversation with fellow referee Kyle Rehman after play stopped, prior to being helped off the ice.
More on the concussion protocol process from the Athletic:
According to someone who currently holds one of the off-ice official positions, the protocol calls for one designated medical professional for each team to be given a radio to communicate with the in-arena spotter. They make an in-person check before the game and check the radios. That spotter also has a headset with a direct line to the spotter at the Department of Player Safety.
These checks of the communication system are repeated each period and at the end of the game to make sure everything is working, said the in-arena spotter.
They communicate almost exclusively with the central league spotters, often reinforcing what has been seen in New York or offering a different interpretation of any incident. They also might provide additional information to the central spotters that was not caught on any of the video feeds available in New York. For instance, activity between whistles or during a television timeout of a player exhibiting signs of a head injury can be conveyed to the central spotters by the in-arena league officials.
“If the in-arena spotters (there can be one or two per game) see something that meets the criteria, they will call the central league spotter to say, ‘This is what I see’ and then the central league spotter can look at video and then call the team medical personnel,” Daly explained.
One of the in-arena spotters explained that he has a dedicated Hawk-Eye, a high-tech video replay system, that allows him to focus in on specific aspects of the game. He said the NHL also gives him image-stabilizing binoculars so with the press of a button he can focus on a player, whether he is still on the ice or on the bench.
The game continued with one referee, Kyle Rehman (#10), with linesmen Travis Gawryletz (#67) and Kyle Flemington (#55).
There’s been no update from the NHL on Lambert’s status.