At the risk of being called a pansy, does it make any sense to have Colten Teubert watching the first day of Edmonton Oilers 2011 training camp at Rexall Place today instead of participating in it because of a meaningless fight in rookie tournament in Penticton?
The answer, of course, is it makes no sense whatsoever, but there sat Teubert alone in the stands looking plenty sour with "concussion-like symptoms" today after his scrap with Adam Polasek in a 7-2 win over a group of Vancouver Canucks prospects Sept. 11.
I had my suspicions Teubert was concussed the second his legs buckled from the punch thrown by Polasek — it’s a tell-tale reaction I’ve seen many times watching fisticuffs in the NHL and from the six years I covered the boxing beat at The Journal in the 1990s. Teubert got his bell rung.
While the initial word was Teubert was being kept out of the rest of the rookie tournament because of a busted nose, I wasn’t buying it. When a player’s legs abandon him after getting hit on the button, it’s usually bad news. That "button" is connected to the brain, and when the legs buckle like that, it’s the brain’s way of saying, "I felt that."
Teubert, 21, who came to Edmonton as part of the trade that sent Dustin Penner to the Los Angeles Kings, might be well enough in hours or days to get back in the mix. Then again, he might not. That’s how concussions, if that’s indeed the case here, work. We don’t know.
It might also simply be a case of the team taking a very cautious approach with Teubert, which is to be commended. With all the criticism levelled at the medical and training staff in recent years — think Sheldon Souray and the Colin Fraser situation etc — nobody with a lick of sense will complain about a better-safe-than-sorry approach.
The immediate problem with Teubert sitting out is that he won’t get a chance to show where he fits in with the organizational blue line mix and that brass and fans won’t get a full look at him during camp.
The long-term? We don’t know. I don’t think it’s a stretch, though, to suggest that when a big, nasty, physical defenseman like Teubert has "concussion-like" symptoms that are enough to keep him out of action this early in his career, it’s not a good thing.
Medical people will tell you, and we’ve seen it first-hand, that there’s a cumulative effect with concussions and that the second or the third or the fourth comes more easily than the first.
I’ll resist the urge to mount the soapbox over the growing questions I have about the place of fighting in hockey, given the mounting medical evidence about how concussions impair the brain long-term, and wait and see how, and when, Teubert bounces back from this.
TRAINING CAMP TIDBITS
Jason Gregor did a stellar job documenting the first day of camp today while I was bashing off a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins piece for Canadian Press, but a few observations . . .
— Nikolai Khabibulin is as upbeat as all get-out in the rink these days as he bounces around looking more like a frisky rookie than a 38-year-old coming off a lousy season and a heaps of bad publicity over his DUI. He says his back is fine and he tossed around a 40-pound medicine ball like during his post-skate workout like he meant it.
— Some people were talking up Finn Lennart Petrell as somebody to keep an eye on going into camp, but he didn’t show me much today. I’m not sure how Petrell’s fitness testing graded out, but he looks gassed 20 seconds into a shift. Not a bad skater, but running on empty too quick.
— Jim Matheson of The Journal "thinks" the Oilers might take a look at Sam Gagner on the wing to unclog a logjam of bodies in the middle. I can’t see it, but when Matty says he "thinks" something, he often knows more than he’s letting on. We’ll see.
— We’re all of one day in with the Moss Cup on deck tomorrow, but I can see the Oilers starting the season with three of the lines we saw today: Hall-Gagner-Hemsky, Smyth-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle and Eager-Belanger-Jones.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.