Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs News & Notes: March 13, 2014

I highlighted a piece by Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports talking about how the number of concussions in the NHL has dropped off this year and were no longer a hot button issue at the annual general manager meetings. But I also failed to mention the “probable” concussion Toronto Maple Leafs left-winger James van Riemsdyk suffered in Tuesday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks.

If you missed it, Dion Phaneuf tried to hit San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau with a big open-ice hit, but instead collided his shoulder with the head of van Riemsdyk. As JvR immediately dropped his stick and lay prone on the ice, the obvious fear was that he had suffered a concussion. (You can watch a GIF of the incident here.)

Jeff Veillette of The LeafsNation had a piece up yesterday talking about the Leafs’ worrisome trend to downplay concussions. Veillette went into the archives and found nine cases with the Leafs and Marlies where this was the case.

The decision to bring van Riemsdyk back on to the ice seemed very strange. Usually if a player suffers a concussion (there’s no evidence that what JvR suffered was a concussion, but it sure as heck looked like a concussion) he isn’t permitted to come back into a game, even if he feels or looks otherwise fine. The Leafs were also getting their butts kicked by the Sharks late in the game, so it didn’t make much sense to put your first-line left-winger who probably just suffered a concussion out there when the rest of the game was meaningless.

I’ll trust the Leafs’ doctors that they know what they’re doing in this case, but judging by the Leafs’ long history of falsely diagnosing concussions, there is a reason to be skeptical. Let’s hope van Riemsdyk doesn’t have to deal with any more symptoms in the coming days.

Anthony Petrielli of Maple Leafs Hot Stove shares some musings on the Leafs in his weekly notebook. One thing that interests me is the Leafs’ use of the 11 forwards, seven-defensemen model. I think it’s been good to scale back Phaneuf’s minutes, along with the rest of the D, but how will the extra workload affect wingers like Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul?

Tyler Dellow of Sportsnet wrote another piece looking at the Leafs’ underlying problems. I completely agree that if this team ever wants to be a true Cup contender, these problems need to be ironed out. If they aren’t, they’ll just be another mediocre, middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference team.

Speaking of the Leafs’ possession woes, James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail has more on a historically dominant performance by the Sharks on Tuesday. The Leafs will be in tough to try to avoid a similar fate against another Calfornia powerhouse tonight: The Los Angeles Kings.

We’ll get an opportunity to see Kings star centre Anze Kopitar in action tonight. Not many hockey fans think of Kopitar as a defensive powerhouse, but Robert P. of Jewels From The Crown makes the case that he’s one of the top defensive forwards in the NHL.

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Tags: Anze Kopitar Dion Phaneuf James Van Riemsdyk Toronto Maple Leafs

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