Heward out of hospital; no Ovechkin discipline
Lightning defenseman Jamie Heward was released from a Washington hospital this morning and is on a flight home to Tampa, the team said. Heward sustained a concussion in Thursday night's game against the Capitals when he was hit from behind and went head first into the glass by superstar Alex Ovechkin, whose elbow also pushed Heward's head forward.
He was kept at Sibley Memorial Hospital for observation, and tests revealed no damage to the cervical spine, the team said, adding "the prognosis is good," though it gave no timetable for a return to action.
Heward was unconscious for 90 seconds on the ice after the hit, which occurred 6:15 into the third period as Heward chased after a puck in a corner of the defensive zone. Lightning GM Brian Lawton said Ovechkin will draw no discipline from the league. Lawton said he spoke to NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell Friday morning, who told him the play had been reviewed and Ovechkin will not face league discipline. No penalty was called on the play.
"I was told by the league it was not a targeted hit to the head," Lawton said. "In their assessment, Ovechkin never left his feet."
Lawton said the league decided Heward's crouching on the play also contributed somewhat to the hit to the head.
"I didn't see it that way," Lawton said, though he added, "under the explanation I was given, that was acceptable."
He also said he will not pursue the matter further and he was satisfied with Campbell's assertion that had Heward hit Ovechkin the same way, there also would not have been discipline.
"All you want to do is ensure the standard," Lawton said, who added, "The law of averages says we're going to be on the other side of that someday. It would be nice to have a really clearly defined standard."
Campbell, in an e-mail, declined comment.
The next question is what does the Lightning do if defensemen Paul Ranger (upper body) and Lukas Krajicek (fingers) cannot go Saturday against the Hurricanes? That would leave the team with just five defensemen on the NHL roster.
Possible callups from AHL Norfrolk include Ty Wishart, Mike Lundin, Andy Rogers, Kevin Quick and Scott Jackson. All are under NHL contract. But it's a tough call. Lundin is probably playing the best and the likeliest callup. In fact, coach Rick Tocchet seemed to indicate the team would prefer to get Lundin back to the NHL. But Lundin would have to clear recall waivers, a dangerous proposition. Rogers is out with a back injury. The other guys are just so young and inexperienced. Will be interesting to see what happens.