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Rangers D Michael Sauer still struggling with concussion from Dion Phaneuf hit

By Brian Stubits | Hockey writer

One of the hits of the year came courtesy of Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf this season ... and at the expense of Michael Sauer of the Rangers . It was abrutal hit to be sure, but perfectly legal.

The bad news? Sauer is still struggling with the post-concussion symptoms that followed the hit. He didn't return last season after the bit shot along the boards and things still don't sound promising for Sauter to get back on the ice whenever next season starts.

From Larry Brooks of the New York Post:

There is scant optimism within the Rangers' camp that Michael Sauer, sidelined for the duration after being concussed last Dec. 5 on a hit delivered by Dion Phaneuf, will be cleared for a return to duty, even if this season's opener is delayed by months.

If Sauer, said to be feeling better than he was before returning home to Minnesota for the summer but is not believed symptom-free, cannot play, he would be placed on the long-term injury list.

The 25-year-old defenseman's older brother, Craig, has suffered from depression after sustaining multiple concussions while playing six years in the NFL for the Falcons and Vikings.

There's obviously nothing about this that sounds any good, particularly the history with his brother Craig's problems with concussions too. I'm not sure if there is any connection there at all, but it's a reminder of what can happen as the result of a concussion.

It's a little tough to go back and watch that video above again now in a different light. I don't fault the announcers or Phaneuf's dad one bit for their reactions at the time -- again, the hit was clean, Phaneuf didn't get a penalty -- but they are a little tougher to watch again in hindsight.

One major goal that the NHL had had in recent seasons is eradicating dangerous hits that produce concussions and the obvious dangers that they present. This Phaneuf-Sauer incident doesn't fall into that category, players will still be hurt by hits that are clean, the only way you could eliminate such injuries would be to make contact in the sport illegal. Obviously that won't be happening and I don't think anybody wants to see it that way, even the harshest critics. Sometimes unfortunate things happen.

Hopefully, though, Sauer will see a positive turn in his recovery and can get back on the ice soon enough.

H/t to Cam Carron

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @StubitsCBS on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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