By Mike Harrington
Chad Ruhwedel and Nathan Lieuwen are both home nursing their concussions suffered Sunday in Philadelphia and Ted Nolan is understandably upset. Flyers pest Zac Rinaldo got a four-game suspension for his head shot on Ruhwedel and the Sabres -- who have seen much harsher bans go to Patrick Kaleta and John Scott this season -- aren't happy.
"Those type of hits have got to be out of our game," Nolan said. "You're not talking injuries where you knock a guy out for a week or two weeks. It can knock his career right off the tracks. We all see what concussions do to some of our athletes after the fact. It's a very serious thing and I think we've got to take it a lot more serious than four games."
Doesn't appear to be the thought coming out of Philly, where GM Paul Holmgren called the suspension "harsh." Nolan scoffed at that comment.
"Unfortunately something serious has to happen before rules come into place," Nolan said. "You just knock on wood that it doesn't come to that. You're talking someone's head, where the brain be permanently damaged. You're not talking an elbow or finger or those type of things. I believe we have to take it a lot more serious."
The Sabres have been unhappy with NHL decisions all season, of course. And Nolan said he and GM Tim Murray have already discussed the organization's stance going forward.
"Tim mentioned something to me about three games ago and he said, 'Tell me everything because we're going to complain about everything,' " Nolan said. "He's probably made a number of calls already so I'm quite sure he's been vocal on this one."
This is an issue close to Nolan. His oldest son, Brandon, retired from hockey due to concussion troubles after playing six games for Carolina in the 2007-08 season.
"It's frustrating becuse you're talking about a person. You're not talking about losing a player for four games, Nolan said. "You're talking about injuring a human being and it could be a permanent injury. ... I think we have to suspend very stiffly and harshly. Those things you can avoid. You don't have to hit somebody in a vulnerable position. You can sidestep. You don't have to hit. It's very frustrating."
As for the lineup for tonight's game against Detroit, the rundown goes like this:
---Chris Stewart, Marcus Foligno and Torrey Mitchell all return. Ville Leino and Zenon Konopka will be healthy scratches while Drew Stafford is working his way back and could play Thursday in New York. Luke Adam has been returned to Rochester.
---Christian Ehrhoff said he will play tonight after getting his ear sliced Sunday. Mike Weber took another maintenance day from the morning skate but should also play tonight. Mark Pysyk has been recalled from Rochester. John Scott played defense this morning but should be a scratch.
---Andrey Makarov has been recalled from Rochester to back up Matt Hackett tonight and Thursday, and then will return to Rochester to play in the Amerks' key game Friday night. After that, Nolan said GM Tim Murray will have to "work his magic" to get another goalie for Saturday in Boston and Sunday's finale here against the New York Islanders.
Click below to hear Nolan's session with the media today, where he discusses the suspensions and injuries, the return of Chris Stewart and the perennial contention of the Red Wings, who will start Jimmy Howard in goal tonight.