In-game concussion spotters fail on Marc-Andre Fleury’s concussion

An inadvertent hit to the head sidelined goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with a concussion, but why wasn't he taken out of the remainder of the game?

On Friday night, the Vegas Golden Knights were in the midst of a game against the Detroit Red Wings. The score was 1-1 about midway through the second period when Red Wings’ forward Anthony Mantha caught a break and rushed towards the Vegas net when made contact with Vegas goaltender Marc-André Fleury. 

It was not a play that deserved a penalty. In fact, most coaches would commend Mantha for going to the net hard. Goalie coaches would commend Fleury for challenging and taking away time and space. It was a hockey play, through and through.

Initial contact

 This is the exact moment where Mantha’s knee hit Fleury’s head. 

What happened after the hit is incredibly concerning. 

Fleury, a star player for Vegas has a history of concussions. Before Friday night, he had been diagnosed with two since 2015. A concussion is arguably the only reason that Fleury lost his job to up and comer Matt Murray in Pittsburgh. 

Rest of the game

Fleury was down after the play on Friday night. He grabbed his head and for a split second laid motionless on the ice. Take a look at numbers two and five on the concussion protocol for in-game collisions as given by NHL Player Safety:

Fleury was left in the game. 

Despite concussion history and showing signs of at least two of the symptoms that would require the removal of a player from a game, the hit was deemed to not be severe enough to remove Fleury. 

Even more concerning, Fleury was interviewed after the game and was asked if he was okay after the hit; he answered by saying, “We will have to see tomorrow.”  Why he could stay in the game after an obvious hit to the head that left him shaken is concerning.

Head coach Gerard Gallant commented a few days later that there was no discussion whether to take Fleury out of the game and that he was fine.   

A Vegas forward and good friend of Fleury’s commented a few days later saying he could tell that something was wrong with Fleury in the second half of the game commenting, “I know him pretty well and he didn’t seem himself.”

What went wrong?

On Friday night there were in-arena spotters, central spotters, a full training staff, and medical personnel available to correctly spot when a player is in danger. None of them could identify that Fleury was injured. Because of this, he continued to play the game, putting himself at extreme risk.

Where the breakdown in communication came from is unknown, but something failed on Friday night. Someone or some system failed Fleury.

There was no reason for Fleury to be kept in the game. When and if Fleury comes back, he will have at least three concussions on his record, just like many NHL players do.

My question is why? When a player’s brain is in question, it should always be about the person first and the game second.

It would be a shame if a player as respected and talented as Fleury ended his career because a spotter didn’t do his job.

Where were the spotters? Where was the logic from the trainers coming from? Why didn’t anyone say anything if they knew Fleury looked off? 

In a game as fast and sometimes painful as hockey, there has to be a protocol that is followed. The health, safety, and livelihoods of players and their futures depend on it. 

Do you think Marc-Andre Fleury should have been removed from the game as a health precaution as described in the concussion protocol? Let us know in the comments section below.

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