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Tampa Bay Lightning Game 78: versus the New York Rangers

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The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the New York Rangers 5-0.

The only incident of note was the injury to Steve Downie:

"I was in on the forecheck and got a stick right in my ribs. It was pretty scary. I couldn’t breathe for a while. I was dizzy, I got light-headed, started breathing again, went to the hospital, took an ultrasound to make sure my spleen was okay and came back. There was a little pain there. I took that stick pretty hard and it was one of those plays that rarely happens, but it happened."

"When I wasn’t breathing it was scary. When you get the wind knocked out of you it takes a little while to come back. I’m fine now though, the doctor said I’m fine."

-Steve Downie

So...let me get this straight. Downie take a stick butt in the ribs, leaves the game, goes to the hospital, and then is allowed to return to the lineup when he gets back from the hospital? Seriously? Why in the world would team doctors allow that? And, more importantly, why would the coaches allow that even if the team doctors cleared him?

Here's what head coach Rick Tocchet had to say about that:

"Yeah it was scary. You wonder about internal bleeding or something. I didn’t think he was going to come back. Once he went to the hospital I thought that was the thing. But he comes back and plays. I need 10 more Steve Downies."

-Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet

He needs "10 Steve Downies"? Really? Because, to me, that sounds like he really wants is 10 copies of himself. Does Tocchet actually think so highly of himself that he truly believes that he was the perfect hockey player when he was in the NHL? I've known that he'd wanted the team to play a similar style as he did when he played, but this goes a step beyond than that. That's a whole lot of ego right there.

I don't know about you, but this whole thing makes me think of Mike Smith and his concussion last year. Was Smith allowed to play because he was that good an actor, or was he allowed to play because Tocchet admired him for trying to play thru pain - and therefore causing him some unnecessary damage by prolonging the injury? How can a player hide an injury like a serious concussion for a month without the coaches knowing about it?

In all honesty, I don't blame Downie for not wanting to let his teammates down. That's ultimately why he wanted back in the game, I'm sure. However, that's not good judgment by the player. The player ought to be thinking long term, not short term. As in, "do you want to be out for the rest of this game, or for more than the rest of this game?"

But when it's a game situation, and your team is down, and you want to play, you'll do anything to get back in the game. I know because I've been there. While that kind of loyalty is admirable, it's also dangerous, and the coaches need to recognize that for what it is. And it's obvious that the Lightning coaching staff in unable to.

In my opinion, Downie should never have been allowed back in the game. Even if the doctors had cleared him, the coaches should've told him that he was done for the night. There should be a policy in place where if a player has to go to the hospital at any time that he should not be allowed back into the game upon his return, even if he's checked out okay. Which, obviously, there isn't. But, I mean, that's just common sense.

In all honesty, that's really reckless endangerment, if you ask me. We're not in the 1970s anymore where people didn't understand the consequences of playing through pain. That misplaced macho atmosphere has largely disappeared - athletes don't feel like they have to keep up that image of shrugging off injuries. So why do this?

There's a chance that Downie may be done for the season after this. Depending on what he actually did, of course, but even playing with simply bruised ribs can be torture. Not that there's much season left, but you know what I mean. However, that doesn't mean he needed the opportunity to go on the ice to turn those bruised ribs into something worse like torn muscles.

The next game is Tuesday, 6 April against the Carolina Hurricanes. Game time is 7:30 pm Eastern.


Rangers vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]

Blueshirt Banter [SB Nation New York Rangers site]

Rangers vs Lightning recap [TSN]

Rangers vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]