TORONTO (AP) — Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger was “stable, conscious and alert,” according to the team, after his head hit the boards Wednesday night on a hit from Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn.
Ranger, who left the ice on a stretcher, was taken to the hospital for what the team called a “precautionary assessment.” Toronto announced the update on Ranger’s condition on its Twitter account.
With 4.1 seconds left in the first period, Killorn boarded Ranger, who went down to the ice and remained there for roughly seven minutes before he was wheeled off. Ranger moved his legs but not much else after the hit.
As medical attention was administered, Ranger’s teammates huddled around and several Lightning players remained on the ice and watched from afar.
Killorn was given a 5-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. Officials postponed the final few seconds of the period until after the ice was resurfaced.
After the Lightning finished off a 5-3 victory, the consensus in both dressing rooms seemed to be that Killorn was not trying to injure Ranger.
Killorn said he left Ranger a voicemail message.
“It’s kind of a scary moment, one of those plays where I commit to hit someone without knowing if they are going to turn, so it’s just an unfortunate play,” Killorn said. “He kind of, as I’m going in to hit him, makes a quick turn play and I’m already committed at that point. I’m trying to think of what else I could have done. In my head you look back to prevent that, but it’s just a tough, quick-bang play.”
Ranger, who used to play for the Lightning, appeared to turn his head before the hit to see Killorn coming. When Killorn finished his check, Ranger’s head struck the glass hard.
The hit immediately led to a scrum in the corner to goalie James Reimer’s right. That quickly gave way to trainers helping Ranger.
Ranger, who was dressed for the 48th game this season, has four goals and eight assists. The 29-year-old defenseman returned to the NHL this season after leaving his last team, the Lightning, early in the 2009-10 season.
Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos, who had a hat trick in his seventh game back after missing four months with a broken leg, expressed empathy but saw no malicious intent on Killorn’s part.
“Those are the plays we are trying to get rid of,” Stamkos said. “It’s such a bang-bang play. Obviously, Killer didn’t mean to do it.”