Colorado Avalanche forward Andrew Cogliano played the third period of Game 6 against the Kraken with a fractured vertebra in his neck, the team confirmed Sunday.
Seattle's Jordan Eberle boarded Cogliano from behind Friday late in the second period — with his head crashing into the side wall — and officials assessing a minor penalty. Cogliano, well-known for his legendary toughness, went into the dressing room and returned for the third period.
“His head was fine when it comes to concussion protocol,” coach Jared Bednar said. “He got looked at the docs in the room and went through a bunch of tests. He felt OK. They put him through what they needed to make sure that he was OK. He wanted to go back in.”
Cogliano complained of neck soreness Saturday after the team’s return flight from Seattle and underwent a CT scan, Bednar confirmed. The results showed a “fracture” to the “C5” vertebra near the base of his spine.
The stunning revelation makes the NHL’s lack of disciplinary action even more confounding. Eberle is in the lineup for Game 7. Cogliano is out indefinitely.
The NHL’s department of player safety declined to give Eberle a supplemental discipline hearing for possible suspension. Cogliano’s injury does not factor into their decision since the initial hit was not deemed worthy of suspension by the league.
“It’s not supposed to matter. It’s not about the injury,” Bednar said Sunday after morning skate at Ball Arena. “I don’t like the hit. From 5 years old, you’re wearing stop signs on the back of your jersey. It’s numbers the whole way and (Eberle) doesn’t really ease off (Cogliano). … He might be thinking he’s going to turn, so he can hit him clean, but he doesn’t turn. A bad decision.”
Eberle, one-time former teammates with Cogliano in Edmonton, told reporters in the visitor’s dressing room before Game 7: “Obviously, it’s really tough. Everyone knows my game. I never want to injure a guy, especially a guy that I’ve played with and respect. … You’re just trying to battle for a puck.”
Andrew Cogliano went straight down the tunnel into the locker room after being boarded by Jordan Eberle#GoAvsGo | #seaKraken pic.twitter.com/YUw4bavNQU— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) April 29, 2023
The obvious parallel, of course, is the Game 4 hit on Seattle’s Jared McCann that landed a one-game suspension for Avs defenseman Cale Makar. Similar circumstances with different results. But Makar declined to play into that narrative.
“It’s all subjective,” Makar said. “I’m not going to comment on it too much because it’s over and done with now. There’s really not much to say on the topic. … It’s playoff hockey.”
Teammates were less filtered to hint at the hypocrisy.
“If Cale gets a (suspension), I don’t know. (Cogliano) fractures his neck, I don’t know," forward Mikko Rantanen said. “That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Forward Nathan MacKinnon added: “It just shows how much of a warrior (Cogliano) is. He played in a playoff game with a broken neck. Crazy. Scary.”
The attention now turns to Cogliano’s long-term health. He will have a follow-up MRI Sunday to “make sure nothing else shows up and go from there,” Bednar said. There won’t be timeline for his return in the “short future.”
The Avalanche are without their Iron Man for the most important game of the year.
“It’s a dagger, man. Cogs is the heart and soul of this group,” Makar said. “That’s such a scary injury, too. Any lower and he probably could have been paralyzed. It’s a really unfortunate one and tough. I feel for the guy.”
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