Friday, October 14, 2011

McDonald heading back to St. Louis with possible concussion

Injury occured at end of second period despite forward playing in third period

ST. LOUIS -- The injury bug was a nemesis of the Blues last season, a big reason why they fell from grace after a franchise-best 9-1-2 start.

Hoping to avoid such hard luck, the Blues went out and replenished the cupboard to reinforce the lack of depth they were missing.

They'll surely need it now as Andy McDonald is returning to St. Louis today with a head injury (possibly a concussion) to be further reevaluated after taking a hit to the head at the end of the second period of Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars.

McDonald threw a puck towards the Stars' goal at the end of the second-period horn, which ultimately resulted in a scrum with several players involved, including McDonald himself. He was initially bumped from behind by teammate Nikita Nikitin before teammate David Backes caught McDonald with a shot to the chin trying to defend McDonald from the Stars' adam Burish. McDonald then took a shot to the head from the Stars' Vernon Fiddler and was attended to before skating off on his own power.

Andy McDonald (10) is returning to St. Louis to be
reevaluated by team doctors.
McDonald, who has a history of concussions that included one last season on Dec. 4 in Edmonton which forced him to miss 24 games, will be examined by Dr. Rick Wright.

McDonald did play the third period but the Blues thought it be best to send him back to St. Louis for further evaluation.

For the Blues, it must feel like Groundhog Day after all the injuries suffered last season.

"He came in and saw our training staff, saw (Dallas') doctor, talked to our staff and said he was ready to play the third period," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said of McDonald. "So he went out and played the third, and then today he said he just wasn't feeling quite right. So we decided to send him back to St. Louis to see our medical staff."

The Blues, who are already without Carlo Colaiacovo (concussion symptoms), B.J. Crombeen (fractured shoulder) and David Perron (post-concussion syndrome), are not ruling out a concussion on McDonald but are also not ready to say he in fact has suffered another one despite the history.

"We don't want to underreact or overreact to this," Armstrong said. "We want him to get to St. Louis and hopefully we'll have more information for you in the next 48 hours.

"(Blues head athletic trainer) Ray Barile, I thought did an excellent job last night. He talked to Andy, they followed the exact protocol that's necessary. And Andy is a 32-year-old player ... he passed all the necessary hurdles that he had to and then said he was ready to play the third period. As a trainer, you listen to the athlete."

There was some question whether there was a an illegal hit on the play, and the league takes a look at all hits.

"He was dinged a couple of times there," Blues coach Davis Payne said of McDonald. "He went through all the protocol, the doctors checked him out, said he was available to return and Andy felt good to return. He didn't feel as well this morning. Obviously he'll be out."

There is obviously no timetable at this point how much time McDonald will miss but it's likely he'll miss the rest of the trip, which includes games in San Jose Saturday, Anaheim Sunday and Los Angeles on Tuesday.

"This is one of the things we talked about, this is one of the things we knew we were going to face," Payne said of the injury bug. "Top-line guys or anybody else, guys have to step forward. This is why we have the depth we do."

The Blues aren't planning on calling anyone up from their AHL affiliate in Peoria. Either Chris Porter or Evgeny Grachev, both healthy scratches in the first three games of the season, will be inserted into the lineup against the Sharks.

"Grachev and Porter are available and we've got guys that can push up," Payne said. "We've got an idea."

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