ST. PAUL, Minn. – San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan returned home with his team after a fluke, frightening hit to his head from a Minnesota player’s stick on Sunday night.
McLellan was struck early in the second period, when Sharks left wing Jamie McGinn hit Wild defenceman Marco Scandella in front of the San Jose bench. Scandella’s stick went over the board and right at McLellan’s face, sending the coach staggering down.
After being tended to briefly, McLellan was able to get up and walk gingerly on his own to the locker room with his body bent forward without use of the stretcher that was pushed across the ice in case he needed it. Assistant coach Matt Shaw ran the team for the rest of the game, won 4-3 by the Wild, but McLellan was alert and responsive and able to offer opinions to the staff during the second intermission and after the game.
“I was pretty sure my stick hit something pretty hard, so I was a little worried and I knew that I was the only one in the vicinity of the bench,” Scandella said. “So for sure I’m happy to hear that he’s OK.”
Shaw said he didn’t see exactly what happened.
“I saw the player come into the boards, and I saw our players kind of push him out. I looked and Todd was kind of trying to compose himself and stay upright, and you could tell he was in some discomfort. I just kind of grabbed him,” Shaw said.
McLellan wasn’t feeling well enough to address the media after the game, but he did not get any stitches.
“That was really scary,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
Shaw said McLellan watched the game but that it wouldn’t have been a good idea for him to return to the bench.
“He was in some discomfort,” Shaw said.
McGinn summed it up as a “freak accident.” He skated away from the play after hitting Scandella.
“I didn’t even know what happened,” McGinn said.
The Sharks were flat through the entire second period, getting outshot 13-2. McLellan’s injury occurred just seconds after Nick Schultz tied the game at 2 for Minnesota.
“It’s definitely a curve ball thrown at us during the game. But things like that happen during a game. You have to respond well,” McGinn said.
The Sharks returned home after finishing a nine-game road trip with a 2-6-1 record.