The Vegas Golden Knights might have won the third game of the Western Conference Finals 4-2 over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night, however, don’t ask forward James Neal to tell you everything that happened during the contest. There might be some pieces missing from his story…
There is no doubt in many people’s minds that Knights star forward James Neal was completely out of it by the time that he made it back to his team’s bench during the first period of the game.
Neal went down in afterJets defenseman Dustin Byfgulien caught him up high, in the head, as he tried to move him out of the way to retrieve the puck. At first, many people believed that Neal deserved a penalty for embellishment on the play, but his body language as he tried to get back to his feet and then on his way back to the Golden Knights bench quickly changed their mind.
By the time Neal was sitting on the bench again, the vacant look on his face and in his eyes as trainers looked at him convince fans out there that Neal absolutely had his bell rung.
And they could not believe he was allowed back on the ice.
Outraged fans took to social media to share their disbelief that Neal was back on the ice so soon after the hit.
The team and head coach Gerard Gallant had to reveal after the game that Neal had indeed underwent concussion protocol in the first period, and was cleared and returned to the game.
Local media made it instead seem like Neal had been a tough hockey player and returned to save the day.
“I got it in the eye and mouth,” Neal said to the Las Vegas Review Journal. “I just went off and did all my testing, and once I passed and was clear to come back, I was good.”
Neal finished the game with a goal and an assist, and managed to record five shots on goal during just under 13 minutes of ice time. Clearly, he was not affected by what most fans saw as a serious head injury.