OK, here’s the deal.
During the regular season, WHL teams are required to provide information about player injuries. The information doesn’t have to be specific — the past couple years it’s dwindled to “upper body” and “lower body” — but it has to be reported to the league on a weekly basis. Each week the information is reported in the Weekly Report, listing the players who are injured along with the estimated length of time that will be missed. Sometimes teams will even provide more details to reporters when asked.
But once the playoffs begin the requirement for reporting injuries ends, and usually teams clam up completely about player health issues. In the past I remember former Medicine Hat coach Willie Desjardins being fined by the league for telling reporters that from that point forward, the reason why any player missed a game was because of the flu. I also remember when Kootenay star Nigel Dawes was allegedly walking around with a fake limp to try and mask some other injury.
So when the regular season ends, we can expect to get very little information regarding injuries, and such is the case with the Tips as today Everett coach Kevin Constantine responded to my player status question by saying he wasn’t going to commenting on player health issues.
That was expected, but it’s particularly relevant because Everett had things happen Sunday in its final game of the regular season. Goaltender Austin Lotz only played the first period before sitting out the rest of the way, and center Jujhar Khaira left the game in the first period and did not return. We don’t know the severity of any injuries, or in Lotz’s case whether he’s even hurt, as he may have just been rested because he was starting his fourth game in five nights.
This extends to Sunday’s scratches, which included defenseman Noah Juulsen and winger Tyler Sandhu. Juulsen took the warm-up, but ended up not playing. Sandhu didn’t play, but he had been a healthy scratch earlier in the week, so was he injured or just a healthy scratch again? We don’t know, and the Tips won’t be providing any answers.
Therefore, it’s possible we won’t know who’s going to play for Everett in Game 1 until the players take the ice for the warm-up. Welcome to the postseason.