DENVER -- Forward Daniel Winnik sustained a head injury early in the first period of the Toronto Maples Leafs' 4-3 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Thursday but should be fine, coach Randy Carlyle said.
"It’s one of those situations where you’re expecting a lot worse and he isn’t any worse for wear," Carlyle said.
Winnik was taken off the ice on a stretcher after landing on his head while still wearing a helmet following a collision at center ice with Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda just across the Colorado blue line 45 seconds into the game.
Winnik didn't appear to be moving as he lay on the ice and was being attended to by medical staff, but he was blinking his eyes and moving the fingers on his right hand after being strapped to the stretcher.
"After I just watched it I didn’t think it was that bad," Carlyle said. "The bad part about it was he was out of it. He didn’t move. That left everybody gasping. After reviewing it, he did twist his neck, but the brunt of the weight of his body seemed to roll onto his shoulder and back. Yeah, he banged his head, but I think he was fortunate. He’s fine. He says there’s nothing wrong with him."
The Maple Leafs were relieved to see Winnik walking around in the locker room when they entered for the first intermission.
"That was one of the most scary things I’ve been a part of and watched live," captain Dion Phaneuf said. "Anytime a teammate gets hurt it’s something that affects you. But when you see the stretcher come out and he’s motionless, that’s something you don’t want to go through as a team.
"We were really happy to see him up walking around and he seems to be fine. That was for me one of the scariest moments I’ve had on the ice as a player watching your teammate be hurt like that. It’s a terrible feeling."
Phaneuf said it took a few shifts for the Maple Leafs to regain their focus.
"The big thing was when we came in [the room] after the first period and he was up and he said, ‘Finish the game hard,'" Phaneuf said. "That was a relief because we were really bothered. We were concerned and seeing him up was a boost."