Things are looking a lot better for Winnipeg Jets' superstar rookie Patrik Laine since he was helped off the ice with a throbbing head and concussion after being crushed in a game on Saturday.
"He had a big smile on his face yesterday," Jets head coach Paul Maurice told reporters on Monday. "He's in the room, smiling, giggling, taking shots from the guys.
"He seems good."
But Maurice would not give a hint as to when the rookie phenom — 37 points this season (21 goals, 16 assists) to lead all NHL rookies — might move beyond the dressing room and join his teammates on the ice again.
There is no minimum timeline on when he'll return and Maurice won't be providing daily updates on Laine's condition, either.
"I won't be giving you a daily temperature reading," he told reporters after being asked if Laine is symptom-free.
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Like two freight trains colliding head-on, Laine and Buffalo Sabres' defenceman Jake McCabe smashed helmets in a mid-ice wreck during the third period of the game.
"Both men were potentially in jeopardy of suffering the same injury. It was just a full-on, face-first collision," Maurice said.
Big men. Small space. High speed.
McCabe is 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds. Laine is 6-foot-5 and 206 pounds.
Laine went down while McCabe had to fend off fists from the Jets who came to his defence.
Maurice has said the hit was clean and he has no problem with it. It's one of the consequences of the game.
"I think we're doing everything we possibly can to take care of these players and their heads," he said, when asked about concerns the NHL needs to do more to protect against concussions.
"This is a fairly fast game with big men in a confined area. There's going to be collisions.
"I don't think it's anything to mandated out [by the league]. It's part of the game."
The type of mid-ice crash that shook Buffalo's KeyBank Center is actually rare, Maurice added. Most hits will happen along the boards and in the corners, but those on the open can be costly for any player who tries to execute them.
The target, the player carrying the puck, is moving quickly. If the hit isn't timed perfectly right, the player lining up to make the hit will get sidestepped and left behind, giving the opposing team an odd-man rush.
"You don't see that type of hit very often, for good reason. It's very, very difficult to time that they way it was timed [on Saturday]," Maurice said.