MONTREAL - Max Pacioretty visited the Montreal Canadiens before they faced the Washington Capitals Tuesday night, and brought some good news with him.
Pacioretty told his teammates that he was ahead of schedule in his recovery and that he hasn’t been experiencing any concussion symptoms.
"The fracture in his neck has to heal but he doesn’t have concussion symptoms and that’s the key part," said defenceman James Wisniewski. "We’ve seen guys miss a significant part of time this year with headaches and stuff like that so for him to get out here and come to a game it’s important and really meant a lot."
The Montreal forward was knocked out and sent to the hospital after being hit into the boards by Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara in a game last week. Pacioretty suffered a serious concussion and fractured neck vertebra on the play.
The hit has caused uproar around league as the NHL has been trying to find ways to cut down on concussions.
League executives are in the middle of meetings in Florida, but said Tuesday they wouldn't recommend major rule changes to try to stop concussions.
Their plan for now is to reinforce boarding and charging penalties and give out longer suspensions for illegal hits to the head, especially for repeat offenders.
P.K Subban knew that Pacioretty's condition had been improving, but was glad to see his teammate give the good news in person.
"It was good to have him come in here and good to see him around," said Subban. "He was walking, talking and in good spirits so that’s good to see for sure."
Captain Brian Gionta echoed Subban’s sentiments.
"Obviously the fact that he’s up and moving around and came to the rink is great for us, definitely nice to see," said Gionta. "We're concerned for him so it’s nice to see him here."
Pacioretty posted a message on his Twitter account before his visit.
"Going to the game tonight to show the boys some support. Going to be good to see everyone again," he tweeted.
The injury to Pacioretty happened when his head hit a stanchion that separates the two benches.
A Canadiens spokesman said the Bell Centre rink has standard NHL padding and it won't be changed until the league approves a new type of padding.
Prior to the game, fans outside the Bell Centre protested the fact that no extra punishment was given to Chara for his actions.
Washington’s coach Bruce Boudreau felt as though those fans were wasting their time.
“If you don’t like it, don’t come to the games,”he said.“Players realize that they can get hurt.”