BRIGHTON, Mass – Nobody would blame Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo if he was bitter about the reckless Tom Wilson head shot that knocked him out of commission for almost an entire month. The 24-year-old Carlo missed a total of 10 games due to the concussion suffered in the aftermath of Wilson clobbering his head into the boards from the blind side, and said it was the worst concussion symptoms he’s ever suffered as a result.
Washington’s Tom Wilson has been suspended for seven games for Boarding Boston’s Brandon Carlo. https://t.co/kKEJL0v4Bq
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 7, 2021
Carlo said he experienced vision issues and his “mood was off” in the hours and days following the punishing hit to his head and it took weeks before he was ready to begin resuming hockey activities.
“The first few days were kind of tough. A lot of emotion involved with it, which was different from the other concussion that I had. I felt like my mood was really off and for the first bit that night my vision was blurry and messed up. I couldn’t see much out of my right eye,” said Carlo. “So that’s why I went to the hospital. After that cleared up, I just knew it was going to be a process of taking time and using those first few days to take it easy.
“I definitely had some lingering concussion issues, but I’d say over the last week it’s been fantastic. I’ve felt so much better. Things with my cognitive memory and all that have come back, so I’m feeling great in that regard. I was struggling a little bit there with feeling foggy and my focus was a little off.”
That’s extremely scary stuff given what we’ve seen with NHL players and post-concussion syndrome and fortunately for the Bruins stay-at-home D-man those things quickly resolved on their own as he recovered at home.
But the Boston Bruins D-man said on Tuesday, as he prepares for a return to the lineup against the New Jersey Devils, that he feels “no ill will toward the player (Tom Wilson) or the situation itself.” The 6-foot-5 defenseman has thrown his share of board-rattling hits and had no issue with being checked in that situation even if he didn’t see it coming as he was engaged with Jakub Vrana.
What Carlo does have a problem with is that Wilson targeted his head with a potentially damaging hit rather than delivering a clean, punishing check to his body.
“I don’t have any ill will or anything toward the player or the situation. I’m just ready to move forward and get back in the lineup,” said Carlo of a dangerous hit that earned Wilson a seven game suspension after the fact. “In that situation, I don’t mind if he hits me…just get more of my body. I think the rules are pretty simple with head contact and I feel like the NHL does a pretty good job of viewing those plays where there’s a lot of head contact.
“That’s all I care about. You see it more and more with head issues and that’s not something to be taken lightly. You don’t know how it’s going to affect you in the future with your livelihood and outside hockey. In that situation if he goes through my chest, I’m completely fine with it even if the hit hurts really badly. I think just taking the approach of really recognizing when you could make contact with somebody’s head is important. As the NHL continues to take sight of those situations, it will get better.”
It would be easy to hold “the high, hard hit against a defenseless player”, as the NHL Department of Player Safety called it, against a chronic repeat offender like Wilson that’s already been suspended five times in his NHL career. But instead, Carlo was just calling for a little more old-fashioned respect from opportunistic, physical players like Wilson when it comes to looking out for the well-being of the entire NHL fraternity.
And the Bruins defenseman said he was buoyed while watching Jarred Tinordi and Trent Frederic both defend him by dropping the gloves with Wilson later on in the same game. So, Carlo returns to the Boston Bruins lineup on Tuesday night with a clear mind both literally and figuratively after being on the wrong end of exactly the kind of dirty hit the NHL is trying to legislate out of the game.