Blues’ Berglund needs shoulder surgery, out four months. Who steps in for St. Louis?

Jared Clinton
Robby Fabbri (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

When the St. Louis Blues kick off the 2015-16 season, one player who certainly won’t be in the lineup is center Patrik Berglund.

The Blues announced Thursday afternoon that Berglund, 27, will undergo surgery on his right shoulder following an injury suffered during training for the upcoming campaign. The injury, the Blues announced, stemmed from a shoulder dislocation Berglund had suffered during the 2013-14 season.

Making matters worse for the Blues, though, is that the recovery time for the surgery is lengthy: once the procedure is performed, Berglund will have to wait four months to be re-evaluated, meaning he could miss more than half the season. Read more

Capitals’ Backstrom says hip surgery could keep him sidelined to start season

Jared Clinton
Nicklas Backstrom. (Photo by Patrick Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

There isn’t any reason for Washington Capitals fans to panic quite yet, but star center Nicklas Backstrom told Swedish media Tuesday that he may be forced to miss the beginning of the 2015-16 season following off-season hip surgery.

Backstrom, 27, is currently in the midst of training for the upcoming season, but in an interview with Arbetarbladet’s Daniel Sandstrom, the Capitals pivot said he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play when Washington opens their campaign Oct. 10.

“No, I do not (know),” Backstrom said when asked if he would be ready for the season. “It is very difficult to answer. We will see here now (after evaluating) with the coach and fitness coach.” Read more

Red Wings’ Franzen says he’ll be ready for season, but where does he fit?

Jared Clinton
Johan Franzen (Graig Abel/Getty Images)

By the time the Red Wings hit the ice for their first game of the 2015-16 season, it will have been more than eight months since winger Johan Franzen suited up in an NHL contest. But the 35-year-old could be ready to go when the upcoming campaign gets underway.

There has been uncertainty about Franzen’s future and whether he’d ever suit up in the NHL again. Concussion issues have plagued him throughout his career — his latest head injury was his fifth documented concussion — but the 10-year veteran says he’ll be ready when the Wings hit the ice in October. At the Ilitch Charities Golf Classic at Oakland Hills, Franzen said he’s already been back on the ice.

“I’ll be ready,” Franzen told ABC Detroit’s Brad Galli. “I’ve been skating for a week.” Read more

New concussion handbook teaches kids and parents how to heal properly

Matt Larkin
ConcussionHandbook

It’s difficult to type these words. Not because there’s nothing to say, but because my brain is in my way.

Today, it’s the pain. It’s not a sharp pain – that comes some days, too, in the form of migraines – but more of a dull, steadily increasing pressure, like the inside of my skull is hosting a birthday party and some poor clown keeps trying to inflate balloons inside it.

It’s been 11 years since my last serious concussion, with a couple car accidents sprinkled in since then, and I know my life will never be the same. I’m lucky to write about hockey for a living, as I can’t play it anymore. I can do 30 minutes of cardio, once a week, and if I push my luck with a second session, the vertigo kicks in. Missing a step on a staircase or hitting a big wave on boat can do me in for a couple days, too. When a subway train pulls up, I have to look away until it comes to a stop.

After visiting the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital this past Wednesday, however, I realize my path could have been very different. Had I not returned to class, cracked the books hard and written my exams just days after my severe head trauma, and taken the time to recover properly, I might have no limitations today.

That was the message delivered by Dr. Nick Reed, Dr. Michelle Keightley, and a team of uniquely qualified hockey people at Holland Bloorview as they launched Concussion & You: A Handbook for Parents and Kids. The central tenet is ensuring no young person returns from a major head injury too soon.

Read more

Pascal Dupuis returns to practice with teammates, to play on blood thinners in 2015-16

Jared Clinton
Pascal Dupuis

When is the earliest in a season a player has run away with the Bill Masterton Trophy? Because Pascal Dupuis is making a strong case for the honor and the puck hasn’t even dropped to begin the new campaign.

Dupuis, 36, missed all but 16 games this past season after potentially career-threatening blood clots were found in his lungs in November 2014. When the clots were first found, a press conference was held with the Penguins medical staff, at which point it was said Dupuis would be out of the lineup and unable to play hockey for at least six months.

And though Dupuis had been on the ice since the injury, he returned to what resembled a practice Monday. Along with Dupuis were several Penguins teammates, including Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Ian Cole and Marc-Andre Fleury, and it was one of the first times since November Dupuis was allowed to participate in a skate alongside teammates.

“Being on the ice with teammates, and being allowed more than myself and the trainer here in Pittsburgh, it’s a first in basically 10 months,” Dupuis told the Penguins website Monday. “It felt great to be out there.” Read more

NHLPA donates $500,000 to Canadian university to aid in concussion research

Jared Clinton
Eric Lindros

The NHLPA presented Ontario’s Western University with a cheque for $500,000 as a “challenge gift” in the school’s efforts to raise more than $3 million for concussion research.

The donation came at Western’s ‘See The Line’ event, which is the school’s, “annual day-long event focused on concussion research and awareness.” Presented to the London, Ont.-based school, the hope is that Canadians will be inspired to donate their own money to help raise an additional $2.65 million over the next year to help support research into concussion prevention and recovery being done by the university.

“Enhancing the ability to diagnose and treat concussions would obviously be important achievements, and we hope that this contribution goes a long way to further research in this area,” NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr said in a release by the university. “We are pleased to provide support to Western in this critical area.” Read more

Blues’ Lethera due back in time for season opener after ankle surgery

Jared Clinton
Jori Lehtera (Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera battled through the post-season with an ankle injury, but should be healthy in time to suit up for the season opener.

Blues GM Doug Armstrong announced Monday that Lehtera, 27, underwent surgery on the injured ankle one week ago. The successful surgery will keep Lehtera away from the rink for 6-8 weeks, but that sets his timetable for return at least four days before the Blues’ first game of teh 2015-16 campaign on Oct. 8 against the Edmonton Oilers.

Lehtera was one of the most underrated players in the league this past season and was rewarded for his outstanding play after just one season in the league. Read more

Gary Bettman testifies in concussion lawsuit against NHL

Jared Clinton
Gary Bettman (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gave a sworn testimony in a New York City court Friday morning as part of a concussion lawsuit brought against the NHL by several former players.

According to ESPN.com’s Katie Strang, Bettman was scheduled to give a sworn testimony to U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson at 10 a.m. ET Friday. Strang reported Bettman was due in court to, “face questions about the ongoing litigation filed on behalf of several NHL players alleging the league was reckless and negligent about informing players on the risks of long-term damage as a result of head injuries suffered while playing the game.”

Bettman was ordered to testify in May, when Judge Nelson ruled that the commissioner possessed, “unique or special knowledge,” pertaining to the lawsuit. Read more