It was a tough scene to watch in Toronto on Thursday night when Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision early in the first-round playoff matchup with the Montreal Canadiens.
Tavares bumped into Habs defenseman Ben Chariot, fell to the ice where he was defenseless and hit by forward Corey Perry’s knee. Trainers and doctors from both teams rushed to the ice and attended to the veteran forward before he was taken away.
The captain had no clue where he was, what was happening, and you could tell he was giving trainers and medical staff a hard time to tend to him and make sure he was stable in order not to aggravate his condition.
That’s when Tavares picked up his teammate Jason Spezza’s voice. The veteran forward heard him say he could hear him and attended to his friend to keep him calm.
Spezza shared those scary details to media on Friday and it was easy to see it still affected him.
“I actually talked to him when I got home, and he said that he picked up my voice and recognized it. That’s why I just tried to keep talking him through it, just to calm (him) down.”
The game was halted for several minutes. A game which the Canadiens won to take the 1-0 lead in the series.
Fans got to find out more about Tavares’ status : he was thoroughly examined and assessed by a neurosurgical team at St. Michaels Hospital and the club’s medical director. It sounds like the results of this assessment was positive enough to get Tavares back home with his loved ones. He was kept overnight under observation before he was released on Friday morning. He remains under the care and supervision of team physicians. Unsurprisingly Sheldon Keefe said John Tavares suffered a concussion on last night's play.
Late on Thursday, following the 2-1 loss, Tavares wanted to make sure his teammates were informed on his condition as soon as possible. Auston Matthews revealed on Friday that’s why Tavares sent all of his teammates a note on his condition last night.
We’re sure he appreciated Spezza’s help and confort, and we bet the Maple Leafs will come out with even more fight and energy to even up the series.
The Canadiens and Maple Leafs will face off for the second game of this first-round series on Saturday night, at the ScotiaBank Centre.