Late, high hit knocks Charlie McAvoy out of Bruins win over Leafs


BOSTON – In just his second game back from a concussion that cost him 20 games out of the lineup, Charlie McAvoy was once again pulled from play by a concussion spotter after taking a late, dirty hit in the third period of Boston’s 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. McAvoy was putting the finishing touches on a night when he’d racked up a plus-4 rating in over 18 minutes of ice time when he was clobbered up high by Zach Hyman seconds after he’d released a pass behind the Boston net.

McAvoy went down after the blindside hit from Hyman and headed down the runway to the Bruins dressing room, and never returned to the game.

Matt Grzelcyk dropped the gloves and brawled with Hyman while sticking up for his longtime teammate, and both players were ejected from the game with misconducts.

The 20-year-old McAvoy did come back to the Bruins bench at the end of the third period, and was on the ice to congratulate the win with the rest of his Bruins teammates.

So it would appear he’s feeling okay in the immediate aftermath of the hit, but the jury will probably be out on his availability for Sunday’s game in Ottawa until McAvoy wakes up on Sunday morning feeling clear-headed.

“He came back. That was the league-mandated protocol. He went and got through it. I suppose, until [Sunday] comes and he wakes up, we’re all going to be a little bit on pins and needles. But he was cleared to come back,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll wake up and determine how he’s feeling. I think we were going to do that after the Tampa game anyway to make sure everything’s good. Hopefully he wakes up feeling great and knows well ‘Hey, I’m kind of back to myself.’ That would be best case scenario for us.”

What about the hit itself?

The hope would be that the NHL Department of Player Safety looks intently into a late, high hit that came from McAvoy’s blind side, and particularly in the case of a recently concussed player in a game that was a 6-1 score in the third period. As Cassidy said, “it annoyed him.” Was it simply a byproduct of some physical play on the ice, or was this a case of a Leafs player trying to take out one of their rival team’s best players in garbage time.

“I thought it was late. I thought it was unnecessary. If the league takes a look at it – I don’t know if they will or not, usually they do if there’s a major involved. It’s one of those things where you’re at a point in the game, hasn’t been a lot of body checking from the other team and all of a sudden there’s a late unsuspecting one, and it annoys you,” said Cassidy. “Especially when it’s Charlie [McAvoy], who had just came back [from a concussion]. So you’re wondering are they targeting him or not? You don’t know that.

“I’d like to think it was just a guy playing hard and got there late and didn’t pull up, but our guys responded well. I thought [Chris] Wagner delivered a good check to [Morgan] Rielly, open ice. He was clean with his shoulder. They want to play hard to the final whistle then we’ll certainly go right along with them.”

So the good news is that McAvoy appears to be okay despite the violent, unexpected nature of the hit, but the Bruins will be waiting to see how that plays out for his availability against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. 

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