So readers know where I’m coming from, I hate the goon(ish) behaviour that seems to be so widely accepted in NHL postseason playoff hockey. I’ve been thinking about Matthew Knies’ injury since it happened and it bothers me.
I admit that I am rooting for the Toronto Maple Leafs to break through and go a long way in this postseason trip toward the Stanley Cup. I cover the team and they’ve become a favourite. But I am also a fan of postseason hockey; however, just not the goonish play that seems acceptable within its context.
That said, I offer two caveats. First, I know the world won’t end if the Maple Leafs don’t make it out of the second round. There will be a next season and a season thereafter. Second, I believe I should react the other way as well – that is, I would not celebrate the outcome of a violent physical action perpetrated by a Maple Leafs’ player on another youngster with similar potential as Knies.
[Really, I would feel the same way if another team’s depth player – just a guy making NHL league minimum salary trying to earn a living playing the sport he grew up loving – were injured.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Matthews Knies Concussion Is a Career Crossroads
Matthew Knies’ Injury Highlights What’s Wrong with “Playoff Hockey”
Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, but especially for Matthew Knies personally, he will probably miss the remainder of the series (and the season perhaps) because of a concussion he suffered when he was wrestled to the ground by the Panthers’ Sam Bennett. For the Maple Leafs, Knies’ absence will undoubtedly be felt. Even in the very short time that he’s been with the team, he has shown himself to be a remarkable player who contributes to the team’s on-ice success.
By the way, Bennett received a $5,000 fine for the game. However, it wasn’t for the wrestling head-lock takedown on Knies, it was for a cross-check on Michael Bunting. Oddly, I have to wonder if it’s a small way for the NHL to cover what seemed to me (call me biased again) an error in NOT penalizing Bennett after that play.
Concussions Are Serious Injuries, and Knies Was Concussed
But, more problematic is the potential the injury has for ruining a young man’s NHL career even before it starts. If the concussion suffered by Knies is serious, it will likely have a significant impact on his development and progression as a player.
Concussions are serious injuries. They require proper rest and recovery to ensure long-term health and minimize the risk of further complications. The immediate concern for Knies is more about humans caring for each other as humans. For me, it’s not all about whether the Maple Leafs win during this Round 2 series.
The concern should be about Knies’ health and well-being. Those are the top two priorities – health and well-being – in this entire story. It’s about his recovery, which trumps any on-ice considerations like winning or losing.
Related: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: The Devils, Panic & Knies
More Problematic Is the Potential Regression of Knies’ Career
The absence of playing time and training due to “his” concussion will probably interrupt Knies’ development curve. He will miss valuable chances to continue building his hockey skills, gaining experience and confidence, and learning how to lift his game to the NHL’s level of play.
If Knies cannot play, that will stop. He’ll regress. The lack of on-ice time could disrupt the momentum and confidence he had been developing, making it more challenging to regain that form once he returns.
Furthermore, the recovery process from a concussion can vary for each player. Granted, some players bounce back relatively quickly. Others experience prolonged symptoms or even long-term effects. Some players are forced to retire. Given those real possibilities, it is essential that Knies follow the proper protocols, receive appropriate medical attention, and be allowed ample time to fully recover before considering a return to the ice.
With the Concussion, Things Change for Knies Going Forward
The impact of the concussion on Knies’ future training is also worth considering. Depending on the severity of the injury and his recovery time, he might need to modify his training regimen and take additional precautions to avoid re-injury. These too could potentially slow his progress and require a more cautious approach to his development moving forward.
In short, the concussion suffered by Knies will have a notable effect on both his individual development and on the Maple Leafs’ short-term future. But, in this incident, it’s essential to prioritize Knies’ health and recovery, allowing him to return to the ice in due time and resume his development trajectory.
The Maple Leafs were successful as a team even before Knies joined them. Obviously, his absence will still be felt. He had made an impact in his time with the team, and losing his contributions, even temporarily, will affect the team’s depth and lineup options. However, the Maple Leafs have a talented roster and can adapt to the situation, continuing to compete at a high level.
So, Is This Kind of Play Really What Fans Want in Playoff Hockey?
I suppose I know the answer to the question above. It likely is what a large number of hockey fans want. It’s what I often hear called “playoff hockey.”
In playoff hockey, excessive physicality (violence) is often deemed to be acceptable within that context – so-called playoff hockey. I don’t find it acceptable. I find it goon-ish.
Related: 5 Deeper Issues Maple Leafs’ Coach Keefe Must Worry About
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May 7, 2023 at 9:13 am
Why wasn’t similar outrage shown by leaf fans for the blatant (as you rightly called it) hit on Cernak which deprived Tampa Bay of one of their best defencemen for the entirety of that series? Why not a similar article from the standpoint of the impacts for that player as is done here rather than the rather sterile “3 Reasons why…” article which again focussed on the impacts to the Leafs.
One begs the other….
One should also question why Keefe and Dubas would place Knies in this situation not having had benefit of playing with men and professionals in a regular season where he could become accustomed to the pace and intensity of play at the NHL level. They’re fully aware of what they were possibly doing for this kids career; worse yet is if they didn’t.
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