VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis believes a blindside hit by Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaff that gave him a concussion was needless.
“I don’t think it was a real dirty, dirty hit, but at the same time I think it was unnecessary,” Hamhuis said Saturday. “The puck was definitely off my stick and I was probably in a bit of a vulnerable position there.”
Hamhuis made his first public comments since suffering the injury that has sidelined him since Feb. 9. His concussion is one of many suffered this season on controversial blindside hits as well as other collisions.
Shortly after he spoke to reporters, Dallas coach Marc Crawford confirmed Stars centre Brad Richards, the club’s top scorer, is being treated for concussion-like symptoms and is out indefinitely.
Getzlaf, who was not penalized or disciplined by the league, hit Hamhuis as he went back into the Canucks zone to retrieve the puck, turned and faced the boards and sent it up ice. The 28-year-old Smithers, B.C., native lay motionless on his back for approximately five minutes before leaving for the dressing room.
Hamhuis said he saw Getzlaf early enough to spin and send the puck in the other direction. But he did not see the Ducks winger deliver the hit as he delivered the puck.
The Canucks defenceman believes he was knocked unconscious because he doesn’t remember what happened between making the pass and being looked at by Canucks head medical trainer Mike Burnstein.
Getzlaf was apologetic afterwards, contending he didn’t intend to injure the Canuck. Hamhuis said Getzlaf relayed his best wishes through Canuck trainers after the game.
“It’s part of the game,” said Hamhuis. “I don’t hold anything against Getzlaf for what he did. Unfortunately, it ended up being a bad injury.”
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault has defended Getzlaf’s actions, adding that Hamhuis should have had his head up. Hamhuis indicated he did not have a problem with what Vigneault said.
“I know he’s taken some heat for those comments, but that’s his opinion and I’m not too concerned about it,” said Hamhuis.
He said he had no severe symptoms, just some head pressure and fogginess.
“And if you ask my wife (I was) probably a little bit irritable,” he said.
The NHL has a concussion protocol that players must pass before returning to action. He’s met both the NHL and Canucks requirements.
“Each day, it kept getting better and better, and after three or four days, I really felt back to myself,” said Hamhuis.
He was able to practise Saturday with the team after skating on his own earlier in the week and conducting off-ice workouts.
“I’ve had couple of concussions before,” said Hamhuis, who is in his first season with the Canucks after leaving the Nashville Predators as a free agent in the summer. “This one didn’t have a lot of those symptoms, like real bad headaches the next day, sensitivity to light and (feeling) off balance. I was able to get off the ice pretty well.
“The guys were there, but I felt solid. So that was good and it’s helped make a quicker recovery than people thought based on the way it looked on the video.”
As for the spate of concussions this season, he doesn’t feel the NHL can do much to prevent them.
“It seems to be a bit of a trend right now,” said Hamhuis. “There’s a lot of head injuries. I noticed a lot of people are taking a close look at the game to see why it might be happening.
“The thing I can think of: It’s a fast game with big players. Things are happening very quickly out there and I think that’s probably a result.”
Richards was injured Sunday in a collision with Columbus forward Sami Pahlsson.
Hamhuis is one of five regular Canuck defencemen out with injuries. Doctors have indicated they will clear him to play again once he feels ready. He hopes to return Tuesday when the Canucks host Montreal.
“He told me he could go tonight if I needed him,” said Vigneault. “But obviously we’re going to give him a couple more little practices here and he should be fine in the next couple of days.”