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Penguins' Malkin experiencing severe headache, mild disorientation

| Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 2:45 p.m.
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin stuggles to get up after going into the boards hard in the third period against the Panthers on Friday Feb. 22, 2013, at Consol Energy Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)
Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson pushes Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, causing him to go out of control into the boards in the third period on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, at Consol Energy Center. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review file
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin lies on the ice after being hit by Panthers defenseman Eric Gudbranson, causing him to go out of control into the boards in the third period Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, at Consol Energy Center. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Evgeni Malkin was experiencing concussion symptoms Saturday, including severe headaches and mild disorientation, multiple sources confirmed.

He will not play for the Penguins against Tampa Bay at Consol Energy Center on Sunday night, coach Dan Bylsma said.

“He's still getting evaluated as far as the extent,” Bylsma said Saturday afternoon following an optional practice for players at Southpointe Iceoplex. “It's an ongoing process at this point in time.”

Malkin was not available for comment, per team policy.

Bylsma declined to place a timetable for a Malkin recovery, but said “in terms of NHL (concussion) protocol, we're following that.”

Players believed at risk for a concussion are required to be removed from games and sent to a “quiet room” for on-site examination by a team physician, who will administer a baseline cognitive test for evaluation. The NHL began using this protocol on March 16, 2011.

Malkin was injured early in the third period of the Penguins' home win over Florida on Friday night.

He did not finish the game after sliding into the end boards following a hit by Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson. The back of Malkin's head appeared to bounce off the boards and his neck snapped back in a whiplash-like motion.

A whiplash-like motion on its own could cause a concussion, said Dr. Julian Bailes, a neurosurgeon who is co-director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute in Chicago.

Bailes said “brain slosh,” when the brain is jarred against the skull because of sudden jerking of the upper body or neck, would be a factor in that scenario.

“It's a minority of cases, but it's another way a concussion can occur other than direct contact to the head,” said Bailes, who chaired the neurosurgery department at WVU's School of Medicine for 11 years and has consulted for the NFLPA since 1994.

Bailes stressed that concussion symptoms often are delayed.

That was the case for Penguins captain Sidney Crosby at the start of his concussion saga two years ago.

Crosby played in only eight games from Jan. 6, 2011-March 15, 2012, because of concussion symptoms that altered his equilibrium and left him with headaches, neck soreness and occasional sensitivity to light and sound.

Crosby absorbed blindside blows in separate games over the span of five days from Jan. 1-5 in 2011. However, he was not diagnosed with a concussion until Jan. 6, after he failed an ImPACT baseline test administered by Michael Collins, director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Crosby was treated by a stable of physicians and medical experts, but experienced the most success with Ted Carrick, a Georgia-based chiropractor who specializes in neurological symptoms.

Several other NHL players, some at the urging of Crosby, have gone to Carrick for treatment of concussions.

Malkin was previously diagnosed with a concussion in February 2004, before the Penguins selected him second overall in the NHL Entry Draft. He recovered and played for Russia at the World Championships in May of that year.

A two-time NHL scoring champion, Malkin was league MVP last season. He only has four goals this season, but his 21 points are ninth in the NHL.

Some teammates witnessed Malkin walking normally in the dressing room late Friday, but none spoke directly with him.

Penguins players took no issue with Gudbranson, who raced Malkin to the spot in the Florida zone where Malkin was upended and slid back-first into the boards. Malkin had entered the zone with great speed, darting toward the crease near the goal line.

“I just finished my check,” Gudbranson said. “You never want to see a guy go down. He's in a vulnerable position. But you can't pass up a hit.

“It's unfortunate that he got hurt on the play, but it's one I'd take every time.”

The incident occurred with 15:09 remaining in regulation.

Malkin spent more than a minute on the ice, his head buried in the blue gloves of the Penguins' alternate uniform set. He did not return and appeared slightly staggered as he left the ice.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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