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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet didn't know about Mike Smith's concussion

TAMPA — Mike Smith apparently kept his concussion to himself for quite a while.

The goaltender has said he has had symptoms for about six weeks. Coach Rick Tocchet said he didn't know anything about it until Smith told him after the Jan. 30 game with the Flyers.

"I didn't have a clue till after the Philly game," Tocchet said Tuesday. "I didn't know what it was or what was going on, in that sense. It hit me out of the blue."

Smith said he made the call to shut it down after the 6-1 loss to the Flyers. Smith said he believes he aggravated the injury a game or two before.

That would make sense as Smith allowed nine goals on 61 shots in consecutive losses to Carolina and Philadelphia.

"The last couple of games I got to the point where I felt like I was more affecting the team than giving the team much help," Smith said Monday. "I felt like I hadn't played that bad all year."

"I had no idea," Tocchet said. "His mood and stuff didn't change. We won big games and he was in net. He was happy after games, so I don't know."

When Smith can return is up in the air. The Lightning on Monday released a statement from general manager Brian Lawton that said Smith could be on the ice "within a week." But Smith said the injury "hasn't gotten a whole lot better" and has no timetable for a return.

"It's not like I can jump right back into a game," he said. "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."

DEFENSIVE SHUFFLE: Josef Melichar, acquired from Carolina in the Jussi Jokinen deal, cleared re-entry waivers from AHL Norfolk, but flight delays kept him from playing Tuesday.

LW David Koci filled in on a battered blue line that is without Paul Ranger (upper body), Andrej Meszaros (arm) and Jamie Heward (concussion).

Matt Smaby played despite walking with a boot on his right foot after the morning skate, and Marek Malik played for the first time after missing nine games with a sore right ankle. Cory Murphy, Lukas Krajicek and Steve Eminger are the only relatively healthy defensemen.

ODDS AND ENDS: The announced crowd of 13,490 was the season's smallest. … LW Wade Brookbank, also acquired in the Jokinen deal, cleared waivers and is in Norfolk. … F Adam Hall was scratched. … Atlanta's Slava Kozlov played his 1,100th game. … The Thrashers' first-period goal was their first in nine games.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet didn't know about Mike Smith's concussion 02/10/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 7:43am]
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