Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Mike Smith is suffering from post-concussion syndrome but is expected to return to the ice within the next week. The original injury dates back several weeks, although Smith started to be concerned about symptoms after the team’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 30.
"We were hopeful that Mike’s symptoms would clear sooner and they haven’t, so were taking a conservative approach with him making sure he is 100 percent before he returns to the ice," Lightning Executive Vice President & General Manager Brian Lawton said. "Although Mike would prefer to be skating and playing right now the appropriate course of action is to err on the safe side."
Smith is working with the team’s medical staff on a regular basis on the rest, recovery and rehabilitation process. Before participating in any game activities, Smith will return to the practice ice when the team’s medical staff is comfortable with his progress.
>> team release
What a bizarre saga this is turning out to be.
At first we heard Smith had a temper tantrum in the hallway after he was pulled from the Flyers game, and local beat writers speculated Smith could have been injured during that display. A few hours ago, Damian Cristodero tried to get some sort of explanation out of the goaltender, but he didn't come away with much:
"While the team's No. 1 goalie, who has missed three games with a lower-body injury, was adamant he would not reveal what part of his body is hurt other than to say nothing was broken, he made it sound as if he would not be back in the lineup in the short term."
In other words, bad news for the Lightning, who've been relying on Mike McKenna and Karri Ramo to hold the fort lately.
Here's Smith telling the media why he won't tell them anything:
"You guys want to know what's going on, and it puts you in a tough situation. But at the same time, we're trying to look out for my health, and in the new NHL, the way the things are going, no injury wants to be disclosed. Some of the write-ups have been pretty comical, but I think some of the guys were getting more of a kick out of it than I was. I just want to be back in there playing."
Then, for some reason, his team reveals the injury via email a few hours later.
The unfortunate part of all this is the fact that Smith may actually miss some significant time due to the injury and he's in the midst of a terrific season. Even with the season-long sideshow going on all around and a near-record number of defenceman in front of him, Smith's posted a .916 save percentage and looks to have locked up Tampa Bay's No. 1 role going forward.
Photo: Wendy Bullard