UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
Home Ice

Stanley Cup Final: Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron injuries loom large

Hits like this one from Boston's Zdeno Chara probably did not help whatever is ailing Jonathan Toews Hits like this one from Boston's Zdeno Chara probably did not help whatever is ailing Jonathan Toews. (Getty Images)

By Adrian Dater

Jonathan Toews was the last player to leave the ice on Saturday night, after slapping high gloves with Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford in celebration of their 3-1 win over Boston in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Wasn’t going high to the glove side supposed to be the one thing Chicago didn’t want anyone to do with Crawford?)

That exchange was the only time Chicago's captain put his skates to the ice after the second intermission at the United Center, and it begged a huge question: How could Toews sit on the bench, in uniform, but not play at all during the third period? Did he suffer another concussion after taking a Johnny Boychuk hit to the head while cutting across the slot in the second? If it was a suspected concussion, wouldn’t Toews have been required to spend the rest of the night in the “quiet room” as mandated by NHL protocol?

GAME 5: Recap | Boxscore  | Highlights | Complete postseason schedule

Blackhawks players such as Patrick Sharp said they knew that Toews wouldn’t be able to play in the third, but that the captain would be allowed to sit on the bench anyway.

“We’re hopeful he’ll be ready next game,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said at the podium afterward. “Upper body. We’ll see.”

KWAK: Kane the difference for Chicago in Game 5

Another question that will linger over the next 12 hours or so: Was Boychuk’s hit worth a suspension?

The Bruins' defenseman did what an NHL player at his position is taught to do when an opponent cuts across the middle right in front of the net: He hit him hard. Toews was not fully upright as he skated from right to left and tried to get a shot off. Boychuk caught him with a big hit up high, but whether the head was the intended target of initial contact will be up to NHL player safety czar Brendan Shanahan to determine. It may have been Toews’ head hitting the ice -- not the hit from Boychuk itself -- that was the main cause of the injury.

It also seemed like Boychuk had his hands up during the hit and arguably led with a forearm or elbow. But again, that will be up to Shanahan.

In any other situation, Toews’ status for Game 6 would be the dominant off-day storyline, but Boston also has a center whose health everyone wants to know more about: Patrice Bergeron. After going in for a seemingly routine check into the end boards during the second period, Bergeron hurt something. The Bruins weren’t even specifying “upper” or “lower” with regard to the approximate location of his injury, but he played only 49 seconds in the period and soon after left for a Chicago hospital. Coach Claude Julien gave no prognosis on his indispensable pivot, but held out hope that Bergeron might be a go for Game 6. However, reports circulated that Bergeron may have suffered a ruptured spleen, an injury that could keep him sidelined for six months.

We don't yet know the extent of these injuries, but it can safely be said that they were serious enough for Toews and Bergeron to not play on in a pivotal Cup final match.

MUIR: Game 5 Report Card for each team | Injury updates

The saying in hockey is that no matter where an injury is located, “It’s a long way from the heart.” Stories of players soldiering on while hurt in the playoffs are part of the sport’s lore -- e.g. Boston’s Gregory Campbell limping around on a broken leg while helping to kill off a penalty in the Eastern Conference finals -- so there's a decent chance that if Toews or Bergeron can go in Game 6, they will.

In the 1999 Cup final, Dallas Stars forward Benoit Hogue played with a torn ACL. Teammate Brett Hull had a groin muscle torn to shreds, but he was sound enough to score the series-winner in Game 6. Mike Modano played with a broken wrist. And we all know the story of Bobby Baun playing on a broken ankle while scoring for Toronto in overtime of Game 6 against Detroit in 1964.

Come Monday, it will be a shock if either Toews or Bergeron isn't in uniform. Because it’s the Cup, of course.

[si_cvp_video id="video_949F6467-61FE-7040-64C9-6F1957EFE162"]

HACKEL: NHL's painful tradition | Photo gallery: Playing in pain, NHL style

More Home Ice

Close

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 4 easy steps:

  1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Bookmarks.
  3. Select Bookmark manager.
  4. Locate your current Sports Illustrated bookmark, click the Organize menu, then select Edit. You can now easily update the web address of your Sports Illustrated bookmark.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 2 easy steps:

  1. Click the Safari bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. This will open the Bookmarks Bar. In the Bookmarks Bar, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Address field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the Firefox bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Show All Bookmarks.
  3. This will open the library window. In the Library window, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Location field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.
Don't Show This Again