Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares has been ruled out indefinitely after he took a knee to the head in the first period of his team's playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. The 30-year-old has since been discharged from the hospital, the team announced Friday.
Tavares had to be stretchered off of the ice following the incident, which took place about halfway through the first period. Corey Perry's knee connected with the the captain's head after he fell to the ice because Ben Chiarot knocked him down.
An extremely frightening situation on the ice in Toronto. Our thoughts are with John Tavares after this hitpic.twitter.com/QV0TtbEP6A— Snipe N’ Celly (@SnipeNCellyPod) May 21, 2021
Tavares' teammate Nick Foligno then retaliated against Perry shortly after the Maple Leafs captain was stretchered off by dropping gloves against the Canadiens player.
#GoHabsGo Corey Perry and #LeafsForever Nick Foligno drop the gloves— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) May 21, 2021
🎥 @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/drFbxbjiwc
The closest thing to good news following this whole situation is that Tavares eventually did leave the ice while giving a thumbs-up. Everyone on the Maple Leafs bench came onto the ice to see their captain before he was taken to a nearby hospital. The assurance was almost certainly directed at his teammates, as the stadium was without fans.
Thumbs up from #LeafsForever John Tavares as he leaves the ice.— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) May 21, 2021
🎥 @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/NAhNknEJ2C
Perry, for what it's worth, told reporters after the game that he tried to avoid hitting Tavares, and said he felt awful after seeing how the Toronto player looked after the contact.
"I honestly felt sick to my stomach when I saw it, and when I saw (Tavares)," he said, per The Athletic.
Tavares's teammates and coach all expressed their sympathy in the postgame presser as well.
"I've experienced a lot of different things, a lot of tough injuries and stuff like that in my time as a player and as a coach," coach Sheldon Keefe said. "In an empty building like that, it was probably the most uncomfortable situation that I've been a part of on the ice. It was really tough to get through."
Toronto winger Nick Foligno added, "Life comes into play at that point," ... The game takes a back seat in that situation, no matter the circumstances."
The Canadiens went on to win the first game of the series, 2-1.