It’s time to step back from last night’s thrilling victory and take a minute to applaud the Golden Knights medical staff and the NHL.
In the first period of Game 3, James Neal took an elbow to the head from the guy they call Big Buff.
Byfuglien catches James Neal up high with an elbow. pic.twitter.com/tBJryQIAeU
— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) May 17, 2018
I think Dustin Byfuglien just hit me with his elbow right. It just got me in the eye and mouth, and then you have to go off for protocol. -James Neal
After the collision, Neal took time returning to his skates and eventually to the bench. This began the initial protocol.
Here are excerpts from the NHL’s concussion evaluation and protocol guide:
If any of the following symptoms or signs occurs after a direct blow to the head (including contact with the glass, boards and ice) or an indirect blow to the head (such as a blow to the body that causes acceleration/deceleration of the head), the Club shall remove the Player from the playing environment for an acute evaluation:
1. “Symptoms”: The Player reports or exhibits one or more “Symptoms” of possible concussion, including:
Headache, Pressure in head, Neck Pain, Nausea/vomiting, Dizziness, Blurred Vision. Balance Problems
2. Sign: “Lying Motionless on the Ice”: A Player lies motionless on the ice or falls to the ice in an unprotected manner (i.e., without stretching out his hands or arms to lessen or minimize his fall).
3. Sign: “Motor Incoordination/Balance Problems”: A Player staggers, struggles to get up or skate properly, appears to lose his balance, trips or falls, or stumbles while getting up, trying to get up, or skating.
4. Sign: “Blank or Vacant Look”: A Player has a blank or vacant look.
5. Signs: “Slow to Get Up” or “Clutches his Head”: A Player is slow to get up or clutches his head (including any part of his face)
Golden Knights trainers immediately spoke with Neal on the bench, but he had his head down and was shaken up. It was concerning enough for team medical staff and league spotters.