Smith back in a week or ... when?
Interesting little episode this week concerning the post-concussion syndrome that has kept No. 1 goaltender Mike Smith off the ice for 11 days and out of four games, including Tuesday against the Thrashers.
The Lightning on Monday issued a release finally revealing what has been ailing Smith since a Jan. 30 game against the Flyers. Actually, Smith said he has been experiencing concussion symptoms for up to six weeks, but more on that later. Tampa Bay's release, quoting GM Brian Lawton, said Smith would be back on the ice "within a week." But about five hours before that statement went out, Smith himself, in his first interview since he has been out of the lineup, said there was no timetable for his return.
This is how it happened as Smith spoke about his injury, though, as per team policy, he never let on what the injury was:
"So, there's no timetable for your return?" he was asked.
"No," Smith said. "(Trainer Tommy Mulligan) is saying it's just how you feel, and when you're ready to go, you're ready to go."
That little bit of not-on-the-same-page has led to an edict that from now on only Lawton will comment on injuries. When Mulligan today was asked for a few moments of his time, the response, through a Lightning spokesman, was, "Not allowed."
As for Smith's concussion, he has said he has been feeling symptoms for about six weeks, though he said he might have aggravated the situation a few games before the Jan. 30 game against the Flyers, his last before being sidelined. That would make sense as he said he was particularly disappointed in the Flyers game, in which he was pulled for the first time and the game before, and the previous loss to Carolina. Smith allowed 9 goals on 61 shots in those two games, an .852 save percentage.
It doesn't sound as if Smith told anyone of his symptoms before this as coach Rick Tocchet on Tuesday said he didn't know anything about it until after the Flyers game.
"When Mike told me after the Philly game, he didn't know he had a concussion," Tocchet said. "He just told me he didn't feel well."
Smith has said he made the call himself after the Flyers game to shut it down.
"I didn't know anything," Tocchet said. "To me, his mood and stuff didn't change. I had no idea. We won big games and he was in net. He was happy after games, so I don't know. It kind of hit me out of the blue."
Said Smith on Monday, "We're doing some treatment right now. Hopefully, that starts to help. ... It's not like I can jump right back into a game. When I missed a couple of days, it wouldn't have been a big deal to get ready and come back. Now, it's lingered longer than I had planned and hoped, so it's going to take a couple days of practice, and we'll see how I feel."
When those days of practice start is the real question.