McKenzie: Coach McLellan has new view of concussions

Bob McKenzie

3/6/2012 9:31:04 AM

This isn't the first time Todd McLellan has been concussed, but getting knocked out by an errant high-stick to the head during a Feb. 26 game against Minnesota has definitely altered the way the San Jose Shark head coach views concussions.

"I guess you could say I was pretty old school when it came to concussions," McLellan told TSN yesterday. "You know, get a concussion, shake it off, get back in the game as soon as you can. This (being concussed) has really shown me you can't play through this. If I had to play a game right now, there's no just way, not even close. I would say I have a much better understanding of this (concussion) issue than before."

As it is, McLellan expects to be behind the bench for the Sharks tonight when they take on the Edmonton Oilers. But until he actually gets behind the bench, absorbs the racous noise and bright lights of an NHL game and deals with the speed of the game unfolding before him, he still isn't 100 per cent certain how he'll react.

"I am feeling much better and I think I'm good to go," he said, "but we'll have to see how it is during a game."

McLellan was concussed a week ago Sunday. All last week, he experienced the classic symptoms of concussion -- headaches, nausea, motion sickness, a sense of detachment from his body and everything feeling as though it was moving really slowly or too quickly.

"I told my kids it's like when I was a kid driving in the car with my Dad and we would come up to a railway crossing and you would get stopped as the train whipped by," he said. "If you looked at the (rail) cars going by so fast, you would disoriented and you weren't sure if the car was moving or not. It's been like that for me. Nothing is moving at the speed it's supposed to be moving at."

This isn't the first time McLellan has been concussed. He recalls having one in junior hockey when he wound up on the losing side of a fight.

"But I don't recall the symptoms being as severe as they are this time," he said.

McLellan thought last Friday he was well enough to run practice, so he did. He felt sick and disoriented after that. He wasn't able to be behind the bench on Saturday night. Yesterday, he gave practice another shot and felt much better in the wake of that, feeling encouraged enough to pronounce himself fit to be behind the bench tonight.

He's also been consulting with Edmonton Oiler head coach Tom Renney, who will be on the opposing team bench tonight. Renney was recently concussed when struck in the head by a puck during practice. Renney also missed some time.

"It's good to talk to someone who's been through it," McLellan said. "Hopefully, the worst is behind me now."