Briere suffered his third concussion in twenty-one months on Saturday night against Nashville. Nobody, not Briere, not the Canadiens nor the doctors can at this point discuss the seriousness of the injury, but brain trauma studies have indicated that there is a cumulative effect and the recovery period for each successive concussive event is longer than the last.
Briere had no history of concussion problems until January 21st, 2012. That night, in a game against the Devils in New Jersey he took five hard shots to the head, three of them administered by Devils defenseman AntonVolchenkov. Only after the game was he diagnosed with concussion number one. He was out of the lineup sixteen days and six games and upon his comeback went into a career worst 23 game goal scoring slump.
On March 23rd of last season, already in a 13 game goal drought, and with only 13 points in 24 games, Briere crashed head first into the boards during a practice drill and suffered concussion number two. This time he was out of the lineup for 21 days and ten games.
Saturday night at the Bell Centre, concussion number three. Recovery from the first event was sixteen days; the second – 21 days. What can Briere expect out of the third, which came only eight months after number two?.
Anyone who’s paid even casual attention to the Canadiens is fully aware that Briere is a shadow of the player he was three years ago. The season before he suffered his first concussion Briere scored 34 goals. At the time of the first concussion he was on-track for at least a 25 goal season (43GP 13g,21assists). He scored only three goals in the 27 regular season games after his return to the lineup. Although he had an outstanding playoff, we now know it was the beginning of hard times for Briere. Including his eight games with the Canadiens this season, since concussion number one, Briere has scored 10 goals in 69 games, only 6 of them five-on-five..
This is a sad story with no happy ending in sight. You can’t play hockey in fear of re-injury and, with his reluctance go into high traffic areas, that seems to be the Briere’s mind-set. And, as so often happens in that when attempting to avoid injury, you attract it.
Briere is sitting at home, presumably in a darkened room, with some serious decisions to be made. Does he return to the game he’s played for thirty-plus years and risk even more serious brain trauma. Even he wants to return, will he avoid the post concussion syndrome that has ended so many other careers including that of former teammate Chris Pronger.
And if Briere does decide to carry on, what then for the Canadiens? Do they wait and hope the aggressiveness that made him such a good player for a long time, return. Do they reduce the risks of further injury by assigning him to less physically demanding power play duty.
Neurologists will do their testing, Briere will do his soul-searching and ultimately, common sense will decide the issue.