Aaron Ekblad was going to miss the start of Florida Panthers training camp because of his commitment to the World Cup of Hockey.
The Panthers just hope their rising star just doesn’t miss too much time after getting hurt at the NHL preseason showcase.
Ekblad, the 20-year-old defenseman who signed the richest deal in franchise history this summer, suffered a concussion while playing for Team North America at the World Cup in Toronto on Sunday night.
Florida general manager Tom Rowe said Tuesday afternoon that he had been in contact with Ekblad’s agent as well as Florida coach Gerard Gallant — an assistant on Ekblad’s team in Toronto — and things are OK.
“I spoke with his agent, Jeff Jackson, this morning and Gerard and both said it’s real minor,” Rowe said. “They say he feels really good. Gerard’s right there, keeping an eye on things.”
Ekblad missed Monday’s World Cup game after being run into the glass by Finland’s Leo Komarov the previous night.
Although Ekblad finished Sunday’s game, he sat out Monday’s game against Russia and won’t play in another.
Although Rowe said earlier in the afternoon Ekblad would remain in Toronto for the duration of Team North America’s stay in the tournament, the Panthers confirmed Tuesday evening that Ekblad is heading back to South Florida and will be evaluated by team doctors when he arrives.
“We were thinking of bringing him back here,’’ Rowe said earlier in the day. “He wants to stay with his team.”
North America, 1-1 in the round-robin tournament, plays what could be its final game Wednesday against Sweden.
Team North America GM Peter Chiarelli said Ekblad is day-to-day, but the Panthers made it clear they didn’t want Ekblad competing in the NHL-sanctioned tournament anymore.
“We’re not going to risk it, we have too much at stake,” Rowe said.
This is the big debate that always happen when it comes to International Tournaments. Should this player participate in the Olympics? Should we risk sending our best talent to represent the general region of North America because a blossoming super star is so elite that he can play in an under-23 group because he’s so good? I guess its jsut because my heart goes where Ekblad goes because im like a father to Ekblad even though he’s only like 5 or 6 years younger than me. If your son says he wants to go away to college, you do anything you can to let him go. But rest assure when he gets a concussion from Leo Komarov Im gonna rush to his aid. Ekblad should’ve been more alert, yes. And a few minutes after the play when he was along the board, he kept his guard up. Concussions are no joke. I’ve seen weird, violent, and terrible things happen resulting from life long concussion type hits. Ekblad had one from last year and another one now probably not as big of a concussion but a concussion none the less. I’m glad we shipped him back to South Florida. I’m fine with players wanting to represent their nation or region/age group but Its far wider than a thin line to know if we should let them stay in the tournament of rest up for what really matters and thats the Stanley Cup.