The Blackhawks have been involved in far too many scary on-ice incidents this season, whether it be their own player being stretchered off the ice (Jujhar Khaira on Dec. 7) or the opposing player (Tanner Kero on Dec. 18). And there was another one on Saturday that shook up Chicago's bench in the opening minutes of the game.
Connor Murphy left the ice on a stretcher after taking a hit along the boards from Ottawa Senators forward Parker Kelly, who was handed a five-minute boarding penalty and, subsequently, a game misconduct. Murphy's face pressed up against the glass and he laid motionless on the ice afterwards, which prompted a quick response by the medical staff.
You could hear a pin drop at Canadian Tire Centre, the silence palpable even through the television. The good news is, Murphy traveled back with the team to Chicago and was around the locker room at Fifth Third Arena on Monday when the Blackhawks returned for practice.
"Obviously great to see him," interim head coach Derek King said of Murphy, who's in concussion protocol. "I talked to him a little bit, he said he’s feeling better. It’s just really comes down to just protocol and it’ll be day by day after that. Just see how he is."
Jake McCabe, who's been Murphy's defense partner for the majority of the season, said he hasn't seen a replay of the hit and has no plans to rewatch it. It rocked McCabe so much that he needed a few extra minutes during Chicago's five-minute power play to recollect his thoughts on the bench.
"Extremely," McCabe when asked whether it was difficult to refocus his attention on hockey. "That's tough. Murph's a good buddy. We've seen too many stretchers this year. It's a scary thing. It's tough to regroup so quickly after that. I'm just happy that he's doing well and we were able to pull out a win for him."
McCabe on the trade deadline
The NHL trade deadline is exactly one week away, and the Blackhawks are obviously going to be sellers. The question is, to what degree?
McCabe has been around long enough to know what this time of year is like and the distractions that come with it, even though his name isn't in the rumor mill. And unfortunately for him, McCabe doesn't exactly know what it feels like to play on a team that buys at the deadline after spending his first eight seasons in Buffalo.
"I hate to say it's like normal, but unfortunately, we've been sellers pretty much at the deadline," McCabe said. "As you play in this league for a few years, you figure out how the business side works. It is what it is at this point, frankly.
"It's tough when you see buddies go, but also exciting for them, too, if they're going to chase it and going to a contender. It can be an exciting thing. It is a little bit of a weird week, for sure. But it is what it is, frankly, and you've just got to deal with it."
Tyler Johnson update
Not only did the Blackhawks lose Murphy in Saturday's 6-3 win over Ottawa, but Johnson left the game at the end of the first period and did not return, either. He took a puck to the side of the head on a Dominik Kubalik dump-in attempt and was placed in concussion protocol.
King had a funny exchange with Johnson in the locker room on Monday.
"I didn’t see Tyler today," King said. "Oh, yes I did. He had something — icing his leg. I told him, 'I thought you got hit in the head?' He goes, 'Ah, this is an old nagging one.' He has his humor still with him. I think they’re just monitoring him. They have to go do some tests, maybe tomorrow or something like that. So we’ll find out more."