Armstrong reluctant to tell Leafs about concussion

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Colby Armstrong suffered a concussion Saturday night but failed to inform the team's medical staff that he was feeling nauseous until Monday afternoon.
Leafs forward Colby Armstrong is hit along the boards by defenceman Alex Edler (23) in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Canucks. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

There was no quiet room for Colby Armstrong. No imPACT test, either.

The Toronto Maple Leafs didn't have a chance to follow any of the guidelines set out in the NHL's concussion protocol because they were unaware the forward was even experiencing symptoms until almost 48 hours after the collision that caused them.

Armstrong was injured Saturday night against Vancouver, but didn't let the team's medical staff know he was feeling nauseous until Monday afternoon.

"It took us all by complete shock because we had no idea that he had his bell rung the other night," Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said Monday night after a 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles.

"He, kind of, kept that from us." 

In fact, Armstrong told reporters Monday morning that he expected to play against the Kings despite a minor foot injury. Now he'll be sidelined indefinitely with something much more serious.

Wilson offered a frank recap of how the situation played out.

"Well here's what happened," Wilson said. "In the game the other night, [Armstrong] hit Ryan Kesler and actually he cracked his toe.

"But that wasn't an issue. He didn't tell the trainers or the doctors yesterday that he had his bell rung.

"[Monday afternoon], he was nauseated, blurry vision, so he's got a concussion and we didn't know that until later in the afternoon. He's going to be out however long he needs to be out now."

The 29-year-old winger has missed time with a variety of ailments over the last year and a half, playing just nine games for the Maple Leafs this season. Wilson hinted that that might have played a role in the attempt to hide the concussion.

"Things have been going so badly for him with injuries," Wilson said.

It comes at a time when the concussion debate is raging again in hockey circles with a number of high-profile players on the sideline. Philadelphia captain Chris Pronger is already done for the season while the likes of Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Kris Letang, Marc Staal, Jeff Skinner and Milan Michalek remain out.

Last week, agent Allan Walsh told The Canadian Press he believes the NHL is in "the throes of a concussion epidemic" — a claim the NHL vehemently denied.

"I don't believe it's a crisis, I don't believe it's an epidemic," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. "There's nothing we can do that doesn't change the game fundamentally that's going to eliminate concussions in our game.

"Bottom line is, they're a fact of life in a contact sport — not just ours — and they continue to be a fact of life."

Unfortunately for Armstrong, his name has been added to the list. Wilson indicated the player felt nauseous after riding a stationary bike Sunday and got sick Monday after participating in the morning skate.

The team didn't even need to put him through a concussion test to diagnose his concussion.

"He's sick, threw up today and [has] a headache and blurry vision," Wilson said Monday. "You don't need an imPACT test at that point."