Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was taken off the ice on a stretcher after suffering a frightening-looking injury in his team’s Stanley Cup playoff game against the Canadiens on Thursday.
Montreal’s Corey Perry skated into Tavares just after Tavares was checked to the ice by defenseman Ben Chiarot. Perry’s knee made contact with Tavares’ head. The contact appeared to be accidental.
Tavares was immediately attended to by the Leafs’ training staff. It appeared as if he was unable to control his body movements.
Tavares was placed on a stretcher as his teammates gathered around him for support and Canadiens players watched with concern. Perry came over to him in a gesture of sportsmanship. Tavares gave a thumbs-up as he left the ice.
Tavares was taken to a hospital for further examination. Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters after the game that Tavares would remain there overnight to undergo more testing.
Keefe said (per David Alter of The Hockey News) that Tavares was “conscious and communicating well” and preliminary tests had come back “clear.” Keefe also said the injury was “probably the most uncomfortable situation that I’ve been a part of on the ice” given that it occurred in an empty arena.
Tavares, 30, was third on the North Division champion Leafs with 50 points during the regular season (19 goals, 31 assists).
The Canadiens and many others in the hockey world expressed hope that Tavares would be OK.