Canucks send Sven Baertschi home due to Concussion

The Vancouver Canucks have opted to send forward Sven Baertschi home from the team’s road trip due to a concussion suffered in Tuesday’s game against the Nashville Predators. Baertschi travelled with the team to Columbus, but didn’t play in last night’s game, and the team ultimately opted to send him home to Vancouver prior to travelling to Boston. 


Baertschi was injured on what appeared to be a deliberate hit to the head by Cody McLeod early in the first period of Tuesday’s game. He left and didn’t return, and likely won’t be suiting up again for the team until after their road trip concludes on Feb. 16. McLeod didn’t receive any discipline from the NHL for his hit. 

This is obviously a very unfortunate break for both Baertschi and the Canucks, as the 24-year-old forward was enjoying a breakout season in the NHL. Through 50 games this season, Baertschi has recorded 13 goals and 14 assists, putting him just one point shy of matching his career high. 

That said, as we know, concussions and head injuries are tremendously dangerous and should be treated as such. The Canucks currently have a very low likelihood of competing for a playoff spot, so playing it safe with Baertschi is the smart thing to do. 

  • Dirty30

    The NHL really needs to roll out of the Stone Age and implement automatic suspensions for any kind of hit like that, intentional or not. Preseason or playoffs, the offending player should sit at least one game just for the hit, and then fines and games if the other player is hurt and can’t play. Fines should equal the salary per game of the player injured for the number of games he misses.

    • crofton

      The problem with games suspended to equal to the injured player’s games missed, and I know it’s not quite what you suggested, which was fines, but both would be so open to being milked. For an obvious example, Crosby unintentionally hits McLeod, or Marchand, or some other “head hunter” to the head. The head hunter is perfectly able to play, but they have 2 games in 2 weeks coming up against the Pens. Somehow, they are unable to do anything except sit in the dark. And so Crosby is kept out of those and his teams’ other games. And of course, one of the things with concussions is the symptoms are so highly personalized. What one person is able to easily and completely shake off, could be completely debilitating and long lasting for another . Pretty easy to fake that, for the person of low moral character and decent acting ability.

      But your suggestions are in line with the hard line the League needs to take.

      • Billy Pilgrim

        The discussion ultimately leads to a decision on whether to allow hitting or not. Eliminating body checking has to be on the table if the league, players and fans truly want to prevent concussions. If we are really want hits to the head like the McLeod/Baertshi hit out of the game, it is the only way. McLeod broke no rule. He did not target the head. He happened to make contact with Baertshi’s head during the epitome of a “hockey play”.

        I doubt many fans want that, but eliminating body checking is really the only way to truly deal with the problem. Even during a legal check, brain damage can occur due to the whiplash effect. With what we know about concussions and with the speed of the game today, it is irresponsible to not even consider it (if we truly care about the welfare of the players).

  • wojohowitz

    Part of the problem is the repeated slew footing done by Marchand. Every time he gets away with it sends a message to all the other players. Cody McLeod plays to injure and keeps getting away with it.

  • TheRealRusty

    “Accidental on purpose” “away from the play” late hit to the head by a repeat offender (just look at the reaction after he delivers the elbow). A joke of a decision by a joke of a player safety department in a bush league known as the NHL. Save your hard earned money and spend it somewhere else.

  • apr

    Unless hockey players (NHLPA) take it upon themselves to protect its membership from long term health effects – I really don’t give a crap.

    Look at what baseball has done with cheaters. MLBPA took it upon themselves to crack down – and you are pretty much black-listed in the clubhouse if you are caught.

    The NHLP would rather protect McLeod’s salary than Baertshi’s brain. Bettman doesn’t think hockey players get CTE from fighting. Its hard to take the league seriously when it doesn’t take itself seriously.

  • Bro Horvat

    Not thrilled with that weak response from the team and from management. It was a dirty hit and McLeod knew exactly what he was doing. Call a spade a spade.

  • JuiceBox

    These aren’t just NHL careers that are on the line; every guy out there is a son, a brother, a father; this isn’t just their careers, this is their life. I just watched a close friend spend a year on the couch due to a concussion suffered playing rec hockey. A single dad of two kids (ages 3 and 5). He couldn’t work, he could barely interact and couldn’t play at all with his kids, he couldn’t leave the house on sunny days, he couldn’t even vacuum, do dishes, fold laundry or cook dinner. It literally destroyed his life for 14 months.

    Most of these players who commit the cheap shots don’t give two !@#$ about the lively hood of other players, they are only concerned about self preservation. If making the dirty play keeps them in the line-up or helps land them a new contract then they will gladly except the fine and/or suspension which is why no amount of punishment from the Department of Player Safety is going to deter these incidents from happening. The change has to come from within – from the players themselves. Until players start having more respect for each other nothing is going to change.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I know I’m going to get flamed for this, but I agree with the league. I hate the result, but I’m not entirely sure what else Cody McLeod is supposed to do. He’s skating up ice to support the play. Baertschi loops into McLeod’s path, and his head drops below shoulder level as he turns. McLeod sees the contact is coming, and braces himself in order to protect his ice and his legitimate path. If he withdraws from contact, McLeod is going to be out of position and (rightfully) stapled to the bench for the rest of the game.

    Concussions are serious and career threatening. The league has to do a better job of getting dangerous head shots out of the game. Kadri on Sedin should have been a suspension. But this incident is not suspendable offense.

    Let the outrage begin.

  • Whackanuck

    People can say what they want about the instigator rule -yes it hurts the team to get a penalty, 2 and 5 and misconcuct, but how much does it hurt the Canucks to have Baer gone for at least 4 games? There’s been Kadri and Cody McLeaod that deserved a major response this year, not a lot and the retaliation doesn’t have to be right away. However the “skill culture” Canucks team cannot just keep turning the other cheek. The Canucks have been a patsy since Marchand speed bagged Daniel and that’s over 5 years ago. I enjoyed Prust spearing the dirty mouse Marchand mightily. Major need in the off-season: Canucks own Shawn Thornton. Even if Dorsett comes back, he’s only a middleweight and why should a guy with a degenerated spine do all the policing?

  • Pat Quinn Way

    Disappointed in how Linden and Willie D just accepted this with such a toe-the-line whimper. Sometimes i miss ol Burkey’s bluster.

    Hope the kid makes a swift recovery like Patrick Laine seems to have done (from a legal hit but concussed all the same)!

    Can I just say though, having Chris Pronger involved with DoPS is like having Mike Tyson running an anger management group!

    • JuiceBox

      Re: Chris Pronger

      Yeah he was a dirty player, but his career also came to an end from a very serious concussion. By all accounts he was in really bad shape for a couple of years following his last concussion. If anything he is exactly the guy you want being involved. A guy who played dirty but then lost his career as the result of a head injury. He can speak directly to the importance of having respect for each other and the need to remove dangerous head shots and plays from the game.

      • Pat Quinn Way

        Twas slightly in jest Rob but i hear ya.

        However, your comment summons up the big question… then ‘why’ is Pronger not using his personal experiences in order to protect his fellow players and punish the likes of McLeod and Kadri, because any way you look at it, those were dirty, potential career threatening head shots that the league (and everyone) allegedly wants out of the game!

        • JuiceBox

          Because Gary Bettman and the NHL executive group (including the DoPS) work for the owners and the owners don’t want anything to do with their players being suspended. Why do you think Marchand has been let off the hook so many times? Jacobs has made Bettman a very wealthy man. And the NHL executive group and the owners don’t give a rats arse about the safety of their players, the players are just cattle remember? If a guy goes down, there is another one chomping at the bit to take his place.

          Until the DoPS is spun off into it a self-governing third party away from the control of the NHL executive it will be powerless to do what really needs to be done.