Dan Hamhuis Opens Up About Concussion
VANCOUVER – Dan Hamhuis thinks Ryan Getzlaf should have turned and skated back the other way.
The Vancouver Canucks defenseman was commenting Saturday for the first time on the concussion that he received on a controversial blindside hit by Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.
"I don't think it was a real dirty, dirty hit, but at the same time I think it was unnecessary," said Hamhuis. "The puck was definitely off my stick and I was probably in a bit of a vulnerable position there."
Hamhuis has been out of the Vancouver Canucks lineup since he was blindsided by Getzlaf on Feb. 9. But he has passed NHL and Canuck concussion protocols and was able to participate in a morning skate with his teammates before they hosted the Dallas Stars.
Getzlaf was not penalized and the NHL did not discipline him. Hamhuis is one of many key players who have suffered a concussion from a blindside hit or other collision this season. Shortly after Hamhuis spoke about his concussion, Dallas coach Marc Crawford confirmed that his club's top scorer, Brad Richards, is out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms following a collision Sunday with Columbus forward Samuel Pahlsson.
Getzlaf hit Hamhuis as he went back into the Canucks zone to retrieve the puck, turned and faced the boards and sent it up ice. Hamhuis said he saw Getzlaf early enough to spin and send the puck the other way, but he did not see the hit.
"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."
Hamhuis said he was likely knocked unconscious because he only recalls making the pass and then seeing Canucks head medical trainer Mike Burnstein as he looked in at him. Getzlaf was apologetic afterward and said he did not intend to injure the Canuck and wished him well after the game through Vancouver trainers.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault has criticized Hamhuis, saying he should have had his head up, because Getzlaf is a player who finishes his check. But Hamhuis did not take exception to his coach's comments.
"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.
The 28-year-old Smithers, British Columbia native said doctors have told him they will okay his return to game action when he feels ready.
"Each day, it kept getting better and better, and after three or four days, I really felt back to myself," said Hamhuis.
He advanced to Saturday's workout 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. I mean, 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."
Noting the league has imposed tougher penalties designed to curb head shots, he feels most concussions result from the size of players and speed in the game.
"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. It's a fast game with big players. Things are happening very quickly out there and I think that's probably a result."
One of five regular Canuck defensemen now out with injuries, he hopes to return Tuesday when the Canucks host the Montreal Canadiens.
"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."