Daniel Suffers Apparent Set Back

Booth and Raymond work with Canucks skill coaches prior to today’s practice.
Photo via David Ebner.

Yesterday, Daniel Sedin skated hard at Canucks practice, and it was revealed that he’d been skating in secret prior to that. That wasn’t much of a surprise, if that had been Daniel’s first exercise since being cleared to begin skating again, that would’ve been a massive violation of concussion protocol. It looks today, however, like Daniel Sedin has suffered yet another setback as he was absent from practice today.

Concussions are tricky, unpredictable things. Daniel’s return to practice yesterday, and the pace he kept throughout the "zippy" hour long skate, had given us a sense of cautious optimism regarding his possibly prompt return to the lineup. With Daniel having suffered an apparent setback in the past twenty four hours, however, that optimism has quickly been replaced with the realization that, almost certainly, Daniel will miss at least the first game of the opening round series, and quite probably more. 

With Daniel back out of the lineup, Vigneault has been forced to shuffle his top-six forward group: Mason Raymond has been bumped up to the top-line, and his role on the second line has been filled by Maxim Lapierre. Zack Kassian, who wore a grey "extras" jersey at yesterday’s practice has slotted into Lapierre’s spot on the fourth line alongside Byron Bitz and Manny Malhotra.

Click past the jump for a more thorough recap of the many mixed messages emanating out of today’s Canucks practice. 

While Daniel is absent from practice, he remains scheduled to speak with the press at noon PST. We’ll keep a close eye on whether or not that occurs, or more likely, if it’s rescheduled. (Update 12:07 PM PST – It was at least rescheduled, as Daniel hit the ace with the black aces at noon PST.)

Update: 11:35 AM PSTBen Kuzma suggests that maybe (hopefully) Daniel was held out of practice today as some form of gamesmanship:

Now, the speculation will start. It’s either a form of pre-series gamesmanship or Daniel may have suffered some soft of setback from the concussion he suffered March 21 on an elbow to the chin from Duncan Keith that cost the Chicago defenceman a five-game suspension.

Iain Macintyre, meanwhile, wisely praises the Canucks for proceeding with due caution in this matter.

Update: 12:05 PM PST – Asked about his brother’s status after practice, Henrik Sedin mostly declined to comment, and reiterated that the team has proven they can win when he’s out of the lineup. That doesn’t sound very good.

For what it’s worth, Darryl Sutter isn’t buying it, he made an off-hand comment about Canucks gamesmanship, and said that is team is preparing as if they will face a Canucks team with Daniel in the lineup tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, according to Farhan Lalji Daniel Sedin did skate after practice with the Canucks blackaces (Weise, Gragnani, Ebbett, Volpatti, Alberts andBallard). 

So what’s going on here? While it’s tough to sift through so many mixed-messages, the fact that Daniel did ultimately skate today means it’s unlikely that he had a serious setback after yesterday’s workout. While it’s possible that the Canucks could be playing "mind-games" with their opponent and Daniel could be in the lineup tomorrow, the simplest explanation is just that the team is being extremely cautious with managing Daniel’s return. 

Here’s a photo of Daniel on the ice with the blackaces today courtesy the Globe and Mail’s David Ebner:

Update 12:35 PM PST– Vigneault played his cards close to his vest in his post-practice presser. All he revealed was that Daniel didn’t suffer a serious setback (something we basically knew when Daniel took the ice with the blackaces), and that the team is following protocol.