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Concussions on GMs’ agenda

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 9, 2010

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WILMINGTON — Today, when the Bruins’ Peter Chiarelli participates in the general managers meeting in Toronto, he will have additional fuel for the fire when he and his counterparts discuss the dangers of concussions.

Last year, fresh off Matt Cooke’s blindside attack on Marc Savard, Chiarelli and the GMs fast-tracked the rule that would punish players for throwing similar hits. This time around, Chiarelli’s lost David Krejci, another skilled center, to a concussion, albeit one delivered without the viciousness of Cooke’s thump.

“Certainly in the last couple weeks, it’s reared its ugly head, so to speak, just prior to this GM meeting,’’ Chiarelli said. “We have a lot of items on the agenda. But it may be that in the whole meeting, we’re going to talk about how it’s evolved with the head shot rule. From that, it always comes into concussion discussion. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the head shot rule and concussions, and that’s all we discuss.’’

This season, young stars such as Krejci, Drew Doughty, Jason Pominville, and David Perron have been diagnosed with concussions. Before the start of the season, the league required all players to cushion their shoulder pads to lessen their impact during collisions.

However, it may be that any equipment tweaks are rendered irrelevant by the size and speed of today’s players. In addition, the post-lockout rules that encourage free-flowing play and frown upon clutching and grabbing have increased the risks of high-speed collisions.

“We talk about why there have been more concussions,’’ Chiarelli said. “One, there’s obviously the bigger, stronger, faster element. But two, there’s the fact there’s less obstruction. It’s a faster game. That’s going to be part of it, too.

“Who knows in that instance if somebody would have held up Oshie or held up Krech so they didn’t come to that point? You just have to deal with it and deal with it properly. Unfortunately we’re getting a lot of experience dealing with it.’’

Savard, Sturm improving
Chiarelli was optimistic yesterday after speaking with Savard regarding his recovery from postconcussion syndrome.

“He’s starting to feel like he’s in good shape,’’ Chiarelli said. “There haven’t been any lingering side effects that we had talked about earlier on in his rehab. He was in very good spirits. I wouldn’t say he’s chomping at the bit yet. But I think we’re almost at that corner of the turnaround. Again, timetables are difficult. But I think he seemed in good shape and in good spirits. I wouldn’t say he’s close. But he’s getting there.’’

Marco Sturm, who is recovering from knee surgery, recently resumed skating on his own. While wary of a firm schedule, Chiarelli estimated Sturm would be ready to play within the first week to 10 days of December.

Given that it’s most likely at least a month before either Savard or Sturm can return, any trade talk in Toronto today and tomorrow will revolve around setting the framework for future cap-clearing deals, not immediate ones.

McGrattan Providence bound?
Management’s initial guess was that the brawling services of Brian McGrattan might be necessary early this season. But with Shawn Thornton locking up his fourth-line role and Brad Marchand serving as an all-purpose No. 4 left wing, McGrattan was placed on waivers yesterday, available for any team to claim for a $13,125 fee. If McGrattan clears by today’s noon deadline, the tough guy will be assigned to Providence.

McGrattan, invited to camp on a tryout basis, had signed a one-year, $515,000 contract. McGrattan will make $105,000 in Providence. McGrattan had been a healthy scratch for every game this season. The Bruins had previously sent McGrattan to Providence for a three-game conditioning stint.

“I felt it was time for him to go down there,’’ Chiarelli said. “Frankly, it was something I thought we might have needed to start the year. I’m not saying we still won’t need him. But it was time to put him down and get him off the cap, for one thing. We’ll see where it goes from there.’’

Seguin strong in shootouts
When coach Claude Julien reduced his attack to three lines in Saturday’s third period, Tyler Seguin was one of the odd men out along with Jordan Caron and Shawn Thornton. But as spotty as the teenager’s play at center has been the last two games, Seguin appears certain to have a shootout spot locked up. As the No. 2 gunner, Seguin netted the club’s only shootout strike. During yesterday’s practice, Seguin also served as the second shooter.

“He’s 18 years old,’’ Julien said. “To me, he’s a pretty good player for an 18-year-old. All we’re doing right now is helping him become an even better player. He’s going to figure it out with time. Right now, what he showed in the shootout is just a fraction of what he’s going to do for us, I think, in the future. I’m excited to see this player as he progresses. He’s only going to get better.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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