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Blues lose McDonald to latest concussion

by Louie Korac
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues were hoping for some good news. Instead, they got exactly what they feared.

Forward Andy McDonald has been diagnosed with a concussion by team doctor Rick Wright, his second in 10 months and the fifth of his career. He's been placed on injured reserve and will be out indefinitely.

The injury occurred at the end of the second period of Thursday's 3-2 loss in Dallas.

McDonald was hurt during a scrum in which he was bumped from behind by teammate Nikita Nikitin, then caught a clean hit from the Stars' Vernon Fiddler that caught McDonald in the head. Then teammate David Backes came in trying to defend McDonald from the Stars' Adam Burish, and Backes' forearm along with McDonald's stick simultaneously caught McDonald's chin and head.

McDonald, 34, returned for the third period after being examined by Blues trainers and Stars doctors. He finished the game but was sent home Friday morning after Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said the 11-year veteran complained of headaches and "wasn't feeling quite right."

"His symptoms were that the concussion continued to show," Armstrong said of McDonald. "We thought we'd get him on IR and just start to move forward. He's like (David) Perron in the sense that when he's healed and ready to get back on the ice, he'll come back with us, but until that time, we'll just move on without him."

McDonald missed 24 games last season after suffering a concussion on Dec. 4 in a game at Edmonton. He's had multiple concussions while in Anaheim as well, with the most serious one coming in 2003. That one forced McDonald to miss 57 games total, including the final 21 of a playoff run because of post-concussion syndrome.

McDonald missed seven games with a concussion while playing for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the American Hockey League. A concussion sidelined McDonald again in 2002 while with the Mighty Ducks.

The Blues, who were besieged by a rash of injuries a season ago, already have four players on injured reserve, including defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who suffered a concussion in the season opener Oct. 8, winger B.J. Crombeen (fractured left shoulder) and winger David Perron, who hasn't played since suffering a concussion in the 10th game last season against San Jose.

"This is one of the things we talked about, this is one of the things we knew we were going to face," Blues coach Davis Payne said recently of the injury bug. "Top-line guys or anybody else, guys have to step forward. This is why we have the depth we do."

The Blues signed veteran free agents Jamie Langenbrunner, Jason Arnott and Scott Nichol over the summer to provide some of that depth.

Evgeny Grachev, acquired in a trade from the New York Rangers at the NHL Entry Draft, made his Blues debut in McDonald's place Saturday. He's played in the past two games. The Blues don't plan on recalling anyone from their AHL affiliate in Peoria, Ill.

"From our perspective, we want (McDonald) to get well as quick as he can, but he'll know when he's ready to go, and when he's ready to go, we'll get him back on the team," Armstrong said. "But right now, we've got to move forward with the guys that are here."

Armstrong did say that he hopes the team can get Colaiacovo back when they return from a four-game road trip and that the defenseman is progressing well.

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