On Tuesday night during a match up between the Detroit Red Wings and the Boston Bruins, veteran Wings center Frans Nielsen was injured by what initially looked like a relatively harmless hit from 33-year-old Boston Bruins forward David Backes.
The hit took place in the final seconds of the first period and while it seemed like Backes could have pulled up considering that the puck was long gone, the hit itself didn't seem particularly dirty. The end result however was Nielsen laying down flat on the ice, and it took him several long moments to get back up.
Again while it's true that the hit from Backes came in late his shoulder appeared to catch Nielsen square in the chest but the reaction from Nielsen after the fact was so delayed, and so over the top, that the initial thought was that Nielsen had attempted one of the worst dives of the season in order to draw a penalty on Backes. Unfortunately once Nielsen remained down on the ice long after the trainer had come to check on his condition, it became readily apparent that he had in fact been genuinely injured on the play and was in no way faking his injury.
Then it was confirmed, in the weirdest way possible, that Nielsen was indeed injured once the game was over. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reported that head coach Jeff Blashill gave an indication that the 33-year-old forward will miss some time, but the timetable remains undetermined for now. He did not now if Nielsen had to undergo concussion protocol.
“I assume he might be out for a little bit but I don’t know that answer.”
Backes was awarded a two minute minor for his actions on the play, while Nielsen would retreat immediately to the Red Wings locker room. Nielsen did not come back out for the second period and Detroit Red Wings insider St. James is reporting that he has been ruled out of the game with an "upper-body injury."
It didn't appear that there was head contact on the hit, but perhaps Nielsen's brain did in fact get rattled given both his reaction to the hit and as well as the fact that he was unable to continue playing.
Backes is having a hearing for his hit, and will possibly get a suspension - we will know later today. The NHL Department of Player Safety announced on this morning that Backes will have a phone hearing this afternoon for an “interference” hit on Nielsen, and with that could be facing supplemental discipline.
Nielsen tallied his 14th goal of the season in the game. He averages nearly 16 minutes on the ice per game, and is one of the team’s best penalty killers. In 66 games this season, the center has recorded a total of 28 points.
“He’s a big piece of us,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said to the Detroit Free Press. “That was a big loss for us.”