Following the game, Panthers head coach Tom Rowe told reporters that Ekblad had suffered a concussion, as did teammate Denis Malgin.
Ekblad was hit into the boards by the Lightning’s Gabriel Dumont in the second period and was slow to get up. The first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft would eventually skate off under his own power.
Rowe called the play on Ekblad “a real cheap shot from behind.”
“The Malgin hit by Stralman, a good, clean hit,” Rowe said. “I thought the hit on Ekblad was dangerous. We’ll leave that up to the league to review it and see what they think of it. But when you lose three guys—two to concussions—Ekblad, which I thought was a real cheap shot from behind, but the league does a great job of reviewing those, and we just wait for the judgement.”
“There’s got to be huge concern for Aaron Ekblad,” Sportsnet Nick Kypreos said during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada, reviewing the hit that sent Ekblad to the dressing room against Tampa Bay.
“He sustained another big hit. It’s something that we’ve seen over the course of a little over a year,” explained Kypreos. “This is Gabriel Dumont going in on Ekblad and of course we see the shoulder make contact with the head, the head on the glass.” (Watch the incident at the top of this post.)
Last January, Edmonton’s Matt Hendricks slammed Ekblad into the boards, earning himself a three-game suspension for boarding and causing Ekblad to miss about a week for concussion protocol.
Most recently, Ekblad was hit during the World Cup of Hockey.
“That one was called more of a whiplash, but we all know that there was no question that he sustained a head injury there,” Kypreos said of the World Cup hit, which forced the defenceman out of the tournament.
“Now we’re sitting there going, barely 21 years of age and already a pretty lengthy list of head trauma,” Kypreos said. “Let’s hope that it’s not too long.”
Ekblad has 10 goals and 11 assists on the year. He has posted a minus-22 rating over 66 games.