By Allan Muir
Just came across this tweet from Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer that left me gobsmacked.
Because of course, why wouldn't Jeff Skinner be rushed back into the lineup for Saturday's game against Philadelphia? That seems like a perfectly reasonable decision to make with a player who was knocked senseless after sustaining this open-ice hit from Ottawa's Jared Cowen, right?
Especially a player who has missed stretches of both this season and last with concussion-related issues.
Alexander later reported that Skinner actually wanted to come back after the Cowen hit and was upset with the team doctor for not clearing him. And you know, that's great. You want a potential franchise player like Skinner to have that hunger, to desperately want to get back into the battle with his teammates.
But someone has to be the grown-up here, right? Look, if the Canes harbored even the most remote chance to make the playoffs, then I'd understand their interest in hurrying him back. I'd still think they were stupid to risk his future, but I'd understand it.
But they don't have a chance. The schedule may show six games remaining, but this season is over for Carolina. The 'Canes are playing out the string. And with nothing to gain, why take the risk that Skinner will be caught with his head down as he cuts through the middle -- again -- and exacerbate whatever damage he suffered from the Cowen hit...or from the previous hits that relegated him to the press box for 16 games last year and five more this season? The Hurricanes need to be smart about this. Give him time to fully heal. Shut him down.