The last time Detroit Red Wings fans saw Niklas Kronwall, he was being carted off of the ice at the Pepsi Center in Colorado on a stretcher. Colorado Avalanche forward Cody McLeod drove Kronwall’s head into the boards from behind on the play, and the Red Wing defenseman stayed down for several minutes before being stretchered off the ice.
According to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, Kronwall could be back out on the ice by the beginning of next week—a remarkable turnaround for a guy who appeared to be severely injured via a hit to the head from behind. As per her report in the Press:
He has not had any headaches or blurry vision. The most visible sign of the hit, which caused Kronwall’s head go into the dasher area between the boards and the plexiglass, was a bump on his forehead.
Kronwall won’t be able to play until he receives the OK from Detroit’s team doctor and isn’t expected to suit up for the Red Wings as they take on the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. The Wings won’t play again until October 23, which could give Kronwall enough time to get the clearance that he needs to play again.
The bruising Swedish defender spoke to St. James about how he was feeling following the hit:
It could have gone a lot worse, I think. So far, I’m feeling really good, actually. I’m looking forward to getting back on the ice with the guys…I haven’t had any symptoms so far.
Regardless of his exact return date, it’s a small hockey miracle that Kronwall isn’t looking to miss more time with a severe head injury. The hit from McLeod was particularly violent and could have resulted in a concussion or worse. The NHL has suspended McLeod, but have offered him an in-person hearing before rendering their decision on how long they’ll keep him out.