Eric Lindros' worst fears were realized Wednesday night.
Lindros, 30, sustained a mild concussion in New York's 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals before a crowd of 17,565 at Madison Square Garden.
The injury-prone Rangers centre, plagued by concussions throughout his NHL career, will be re-evaluated Thursday.
"We've spoken to the doctor, Karen Johnston, in Montreal," Rangers president, general manager and head coach Glen Sather told reporters afterward.
"These things are hard to judge. By her over-the-phone diagnosis after talking to our doctors, they don't think it's that severe."
- Player bio: Eric Lindros
Lindros suffered the injury when levelled by Jason Doig midway through the second period.
Doig caught Lindros leaning forward as he lugged the puck near the Rangers bench and delivered a clean check, knocking him off his skates.
"He came through with his head down," Doig recalled. "I've got to make that hit.
"Guys around the league know I step up and make that play."
Lindros chased down Doig on his next shift and grappled gamely before pinning the Capitals defenceman to the ice.
Lindros did not return for the third period.
"I have all the respect in the world for Eric," Doig claimed. "I told him 'I'm not trying to hurt you.'"
"None of us saw him after the game," Rangers centre Bobby Holik revealed. "So we have to remain positive and wait and see."
Lindros kept his shifts surprisingly short in the game, totalling just 9:37 in 15 trips over the boards.
By comparison, linemate Jaromir Jagr averaged in excess of one minute per shift.
"He's a big player to be out of the lineup," Rangers captain Mark Messier said. "He's an important part of our team.
"We will all have to pick it up in a lot of areas."
Lindros currently ranks fourth in team scoring with 10 goals and 32 points in 38 games.
But the 1995 Hart Trophy winner is vulnerable to concussions.
Lindros suffered six concussions between May 7, 1998, and May 26, 2000, a history that undoubtedly hastened his departure from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Lindros spurned the Quebec Nordiques upon being drafted first overall in 1991 and was subsequently awarded to the Flyers, who won out over the Rangers in a trade dispute settled by arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi.
He played eight seasons in Philadelphia before missing all of 2000-01 recovering from a concussion suffered when hit by Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference final.
Lindros was eventually traded to New York for Jan Hlavac, Kim Johnsson, Pavel Brendl and a third-round draft pick on Aug. 20, 2001.
The Toronto native has 356 goals and 817 points in 677 games over NHL seasons with the Flyers and Rangers.
Lindros has represented Canada eight times in his career, capturing two world junior championships, the 1991 Canada Cup and a silver medal at the 1992 Albertville Olympic Winter Games.
with files from CP Online