John Tavares Out Indefinitely
May 21, 2021
Leafs fans are heartbroken after last night’s game.
For the first time in 42 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens are meeting in a playoff series.
These two Original Six teams faced off on May 20th for the first game in the best of 7 series. The two franchises have one of the most infamous rivalries in league history, and fans were eager to see this match up. But things took a sharp turn halfway through the first period.
The game started well, with equal time being spent in both teams’ zones. It was slightly chippy, with many big hits and small scuffles in front of the net. But then disaster struck.
Leafs captain John Tavares was skating up the ice with the puck when he was checked off his feet by Habs Ben Chiarot. It was not an illegal hit, but the force spun Tavares into Canadiens player Corey Perry. Perry’s knee hit Tavares’ face, causing his head to snap back.
It was our captain laying on the ice, that’s pretty much it
— Nick Foligno
Immediately play was called and medical trainers were escorted onto the ice. A horrifying image followed as Tavares could be seen bending backwards and passing out in the arms of the Leafs staff. With the possibility of a severe injury to the neck or back, the fear and the worry were plausible.
The entire arena was silent. With the absence of fans, even the players were dead quiet. Members of the Canadiens were looking on with concern, born from the respect of this star player.
Leafs GM Kyle Dubas could be seen running out of his box, frantically calling his phone. The look on his face was not one of a GM worrying about his player, but one of a friend. Even Alex Galyenchuck and Travis Dermott, Leafs extras, were extremely concerned in their own box.
I just tried to keep him calm
— Jason Spezza
Tavares was trying to get up, almost in a panic. He was confused, and the medical staff from both the Habs and the Leafs were encouraging him to relax. Many of the Leafs skated around nervously on the ice, awaiting answers.
Jason Spezza, a veteran and a past captain of the Ottawa Senators, was one of the Leafs players. He says he stayed close with John Tavares on the ice last night because Tavares was confused but able to pick up his voice. He also says Tavares wasn’t responding to much else.
During a conversation with Tavares later that night after the game, he told Spezza he recognized only his voice on the ice.
Eventually, Tavares was loaded onto a stretcher, stick taps filling the empty air. All the Leafs skated over to tap their captain, reassuring their friend. Corey Perry and Carey Price of the Canadiens also tapped the captain, a sign of respect and apologies.
On the way out John Tavares held up a thumbs up, which lightened many hearts.
The Leafs ended up losing 2-1, the game-winning goal being short-handed. But most minds and hearts were on Tavares.
He was rushed to the hospital and was cleared of any severe bodily injuries. He left the hospital early this morning and was confirmed with a concussion which means he will be out indefinitely. He is now in his own home, under the care of the Leafs and the Habs’ best medical staff.
Auston Matthews of the Leafs says that the team received a message from Tavares this morning saying that he was doing better, and that’s not the only light of hope the Leafs Nation has seen today. John Tavares himself has released a statement.
Game 2 is taking place Saturday, May 22nd at 7:00 pm.