But concussions are handled with more caution than sore shoulders, tender backs or wonky knees. The Maple Leafs decided to exercise caution with Kaberle and sat him out for an eighth straight game on Tuesday night.
“Almost any other injury, when you get to that point where a player feels that he can play, there’s enough grey area where you let a guy go,” coach Paul Maurice said after the morning skate. “But there is no grey area with a concussion.
“And that’s the way it should be.”
Kaberle expects to make his return on Friday night, when the Leafs visit the Buffalo Sabres.
He skated with the team for a second straight day before learning that he would be sitting out the rematch with New Jersey. It was a March 2 game against the Devils when Kaberle was knocked awkwardly into the boards by a late hit from Cam Janssen and suffered the first concussion of his career.
The two haven’t spoken since the incident and Kaberle wasn’t expecting to get an apology from the Devils tough guy.
“It doesn’t matter to me really,” he said. “I’ll show up for the game and watch the guys play. That’s all I’m going to do.”
Kaberle’s potential return had been the main talking point heading into Tuesday’s game. He’s been the Maple Leafs best defenceman this season and arguably its most consistent player as well.
He’s third in team scoring with 49 points (9-40) in 65 games.
The past two and a half weeks have been difficult for the durable player to watch from the press box. He’s talked about being both bored and anxious while watching his teammates make a push for the playoffs.
Kaberle even tried to talk the training staff into letting him come back for Tuesday’s game.
“There was a few attempts already made,” he said. “It’s difficult. But you get lots of doctors saying what you should do.”
Added Maurice: “There was some teeth pulling.”
Ultimately, Kaberle expects to skate the next couple days before having one more meeting with a doctor. He hopes then to receive clearance.
As tough as it’s been to sit and watch, he knows deep down that waiting a few more days is the prudent thing to do. He’d hate to return too soon and jeopardize being injured for longer.
“I don’t want to play one or two games and not feel good,” said Kaberle. “I want to play eight, nine games – the rest of the season – and help the team try to make the playoffs.”
He’s progressing each day, he said.
“I don’t see why I couldn’t play on Friday.”