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Wild center Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Paul Connors, Associated Press

Bouchard is sidelined indefinitely

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • January 10, 2012 - 10:25 PM

If Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher wasn't under pressure before to make a trade to try to jump-start his struggling team, he really could be now.

Fletcher announced Tuesday that Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who has a history of concussions, will be shut down indefinitely because of concussion-like symptoms.

Guillaume Latendresse already is sidelined by a concussion as well. For a team buried second-to-last in the NHL in goals scored, that's two-thirds of its second line now on the shelf because of head injuries.

"It's hard. Most teams that have goal scorers and point producers want to keep them," said Fletcher, on how tough it will be to find reinforcements. "The majority of teams are still in the playoff hunt, so there's just not a lot of these type of players that move during the season.

"Obviously we'll see if there's external solutions. ... My job's to look at ways to improve our team and I'll continue to try to do that."

Bouchard returned to the Wild's lineup Dec. 1, 2010, after playing one game in 20 months due to post-concussion syndrome. The initial injury took place March 25, 2009, on a check from then-Islanders center Nate Thompson.

Last month in Winnipeg, Bouchard was crushed into the boards by Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian. Bouchard missed two games because of a broken nose, but Fletcher said Bouchard has "felt a little bit of pressure from time to time" since the hit.

Last Wednesday in Vancouver, Bouchard took an inadvertent elbow from Chris Higgins with 58 seconds left. He was stunned, although Fletcher said, "The symptoms right now are nowhere as severe as what they were two seasons ago."

Bouchard missed Saturday's game in Calgary because of what the Wild called a lower body injury. Fletcher said Bouchard does actually have a pulled groin, but the Wild wanted to wait for him to see team doctors before "we officially used the concussion word."

It's unclear why Bouchard kept playing despite feeling "pressure" since the Bogosian hit. He will address the media Wednesday, but coach Mike Yeo said: "I don't feel like we've done anything to put him at risk. He came back when he felt comfortable and ready to go."

In Latendresse's past four full games, he scored four goals. Bouchard had four goals in his past seven games.

"It's a significant blow on a lot of different levels, both for him and for our hockey team," Fletcher said.

Latendresse spent the past week seeking rest and relaxation in Montreal, but he is still experiencing symptoms. Jarod Palmer has missed four games because of a concussion but is working out.

"It's scary. Everybody's talking about it, teams are talking about it, players, the media," Fletcher said of a perceived concussion epidemic in the NHL. "It's a scary injury because there's not a doctor in the world that can look at a concussed player and give you any information as to when you're going to come back and how you're going to feel after the fact.

"There's no road map. It's just time and it's patience and it's the player knowing his body and when he's ready."

In the meantime, Fletcher said he would try to add some offensive punch. But it won't be easy.

"We have a lot of cap space. That's fortunate," he said. "If we can add some skill ... and it's not a crazy short-term deal where you're giving up a lot of assets for a rental, then I think we'll look at anything at this point."

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