Was Stepan's injury report meant to lengthen Prust's suspension?

by May 23, 1:46 PM
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Getting hit when you don’t expect it is a tough feeling to explain, because it doesn’t hurt, necessarily, but the surprise is jarring, like getting hit in the face with a brick wrapped in bubble wrap. It’s just ... momentary chaos and confusion for less than a second until your body comes to rest.

In stillness you start to assess the location of the pain, assuming you’re conscious, and it’s harder than it sounds. I have vivid memories of dragging myself up to my hands and knees, trying to figure out what was wrong, because after taking a certain type of hit, you know something is wrong.

For Derek Stepan, it was his jaw.

Brandon Prust hit him from the (borderline) blindside, the location of the hit was (borderline) the head, and the hit was (not borderline) too late. Prust has a hearing on Friday to determine how many games he’ll be suspended. It should and likely will be a few.

After the brutal hit, Stepan got up and jawed at the ref and Prust — rightfully angry over the non-call and the hit. He then went to the room and had X-rays, which came back negative. He was cleared to play, and so he did.

Friday morning, the Rangers released word that Stepan suffered a broken jaw, and needed surgery.

The timing raised red flags. Injury factors into suspensions, and with the Prust hearing Friday, and the knowledge that Stepan remained in the game, it just seemed ... curious.

I was curious. I tweeted a few times to that effect.

Let’s have a conversation that should crumple a few tinfoil hats, shall we?

Hey.

Hey, what’s up?

Isn’t it weird that Stepan is “claiming” a broken jaw, but chatted away and played the rest of the game?

Not really. Adrenaline can do that. Players deal with “sore” all the time.

But then, shouldn’t the doctors have told him his night was over if his jaw was broken to protect him?

They probably just missed it while focusing on a possible concussion. If the jawbone is still in line, it can be difficult to find a small fracture via X-ray. It took going to a specialist for a CT scan to find it this morning.

Well, if it’s just a small fracture, why does he need “surgery?”

Probably just stability. One of those things where the average public probably wouldn’t need it, but if you want to get back playing sooner, you might as well.

I guess. So he’ll obviously be out awhile, hey?

Ah, you know these guys. Slap a jaw protector on, pull an Alex Burrows, and get back out there.

Wow that’s stupid.

It is.

So, if he’s going to be back so soon, should Prust really get extra games for the “injury?”

Ditch the scare quotes. He injured the guy. Yes.

***

I openly admit to being skeptical when I first heard the news, but then, I’m a raging cynic. I know you’re not playing through a broken jaw, but if the idea is a small fracture and a stabilizing plate, well, it’s possible.

Reality is likely somewhere in the middle, as it often is. The Rangers are being a little shady, but in this case, the ends might justify the means. Prust is going to be suspended, and deserves a bit more time because of the injury, small or not.

Whatever the case, there’s a good chance Stepan misses a game or two at most, and Prust will miss more. And when the guy delivering the blow is worse off than the receiver, that’s justice.

Feature photo courtesy of Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports