Home NEWS Three weeks after bloody incident at Vancouver, Matt Calvert poised to return...

Three weeks after bloody incident at Vancouver, Matt Calvert poised to return for Avs

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TORONTO — Matt Calvert is scheduled to return to the Avalanche lineup Wednesday knowing he probably played a key role in the future of NHL player safety.

Calvert has missed six games with a concussion — caused by inadvertently blocking a shot behind his right ear in the defensive zone Nov. 16 at Vancouver. The Canucks scored approximately 12 seconds after Elias Pettersson’s shot struck Calvert, causing a six-stitch wound and making the Avs forward incapable of gaining his skates or even crawling to the bench.

The Avs were furious that officials allowed play to continue while Calvert was bleeding from his head, and even Pettersson raised an arm in protest that Calvert’s condition was more important than scoring on what began as a 6-on-5 attack with Vancouver’s goalie on the bench for a sixth skater.

“I’ve taken them on the forehead before in an incident that was whistled down,” Calvert said Monday after being cleared to return to the lineup. “The biggest thing for me, when an opposing team’s player is in a little bit of shock — (Pettersson) has the best view of it. He has his hand up, kind of looking around like, ‘This guy just took one in the head.’ It was surprising to me. But it is what it is. It’s been addressed and hopefully, it can change in the future.”

NHL Rule 8.1 states that if a player is injured and cannot continue “the play shall not be stopped until the injured player’s team has secured control of the puck. If the player’s team is in control of the puck at the time of injury, play shall be stopped immediately unless his team is in a scoring position. In the case where it is obvious that a player has sustained a serious injury, the referee and/or linesman may stop the play immediately.”

Calvert, who is perhaps the Avs’ toughest player, is confident that officials will act on the last sentence of that rule in the future — particularly when teams pull their goalie for an extra attacker and the defending team is prone to trying to block shots.

“They pulled their goalie and it’s all-out effort to do whatever you can,” Calvert said, remembering the incident in great detail. “Petterson waited me out and then pulled it back. The idea for me was to spin to maybe get a stick on it. Unfortunately, it hit me in the back of the ear. It’s part of the game. Too bad they scored at the end. (I) didn’t feel too hot after. Had some great time to recover and excited to be back in the lineup.”

Calvert was playing with first-line center Nathan MacKinnon at the time of his injury. MacKinnon, who also was defending on the play, was outraged that officials didn’t allow trainers to immediately attend to Calvert.

“The guy is lying there, bleeding out the side of his head. And it’s Matt Calvert; he’s such a tough guy. He’s not looking for a whistle and faking it,” MacKinnon told reporters after that game. “If it’s a puck off the foot, let him lay there. A broken foot, it’s serious, but he’ll be fine. But a guy’s bleeding out of his ear? It’s pretty dangerous.”

Footnotes. The Avs didn’t practice Tuesday before flying to Toronto. Calvert is on the trip along with top-line wingers Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog. Rantanen has missed 16 of the last 17 games, returning from an ankle injury on Saturday but skipping Monday’s practice after the team had Sunday off. Landeskog has missed the last 15 games with an ankle injury but is questionable against the Maple Leafs. … Colorado’s three-game road trip continues Thursday at Montreal and concludes Saturday at Boston.

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