Usually when the big news du jour is splayed out over media both old and new, the rush to judgment and the rush to publish creates headlines like “Why X is X” or the opposite “Why X is Y,” as if the authors subtly question your intelligence and need to suck you in with the promise of an argument or debate, or a simple explanation of the issue at hand.
But when it comes to the status of Claude Giroux, his concussion and his potential return as soon as tonight in Dallas, I owe it to the readers of this site not to indulge in creative spin, because it’s just insulting. There’s only one answer here: It’s too damn soon.
I don’t care if Paul Holmgren said Claude’s been feeling well the last couple days. I don’t care if the doctors have cleared him. I don’t care if G’s gone from off-ice, to the yellow jersey, to a regular jersey. I don’t care if it makes millions of Flyers minions happy to see the drama unfold on HBO’s 24/7. It’s too damn soon.
All the arguments in the mix are correct: We don’t know that concussion symptoms follow a linear outcome and that each day of improvement will lead to another day of continued improvement, we do know that medical professionals have signed off on Giroux’s return and we do know that he himself has told the team that he’s feeling better. We also know that he’s the most important player, and the highest scorer on the Flyers, and, like Chris Pronger, one more piece to this new successful puzzle that the team can’t do well without in the long term.
This just leads to one conclusion, and one conclusion only: Claude Giroux should not come back. He certainly shouldn’t be anywhere near the American Airlines Center ice come 7:30 PM tonight.
So what if he has three straight days of good results? So what if the guys in the white coats gave consent? With the uncertain path of brain injuries, he could do well on the fourth, fifth and sixth days or he could have a recurrence of symptoms lasting one, two, three, 10 days. And team doctors are often under the Sword of Damocles, feeling pressure to give the best possible prognosis at the earliest possible time.
Plus, given the franchise’s roots in the Warrior Mentality and the deference to the player’s wishes, does anyone in the front office have the stones to put a stop to a return? Realistically, nope.
Supposing Giroux wants to play tonight. The probable outcome is that Holmgren throws up his hands and says “We’re not gonna stop him if he wants to come back. He’s been given clearance.” And of course, that assurance only lasts as long as the first big hit he takes. And when that happens, because the Dallas Stars do tend to play very physically, time will freeze solid like Arctic ice pack.
Don’t equivocate here, either. Don’t think that Giroux should be eased back into play with a few minutes here or there — because all it takes is one moment out of a 30-second shift for something to go wrong. Just ask Sidney Crosby, who didn’t even absorb another head hit to be out indefinitely. Just ask Travis Roy. That’s an extreme example but you know what I mean.
Adam Burish, fresh from IR and loaded for bear without fear of repercussions from Pronger is a likely candidate to do the dirt.
If Giroux is feeling great, that’s awesome. But we should want him to feel great through the holidays. And then a few days after that. And then he should be allowed to return a few days after that. We all know that pressure will be brought to bear, either directly or indirectly, to get the club’s marquee young talent back on ice in front of the National TV Audience for the Big Rangers Game at the Winter Classic, so why should the minimum be acceptable?
But for once if the Flyers are really in tune with the prevailing sentiment regarding the rise in concussions, the actual value of a player to the organization and the value of his own existence beyond the rink should be the only factors taken into account. And the only smart move then is to keep him out until there’s absolutely no doubt.
And then, wait a few days after that.