Every NHL team is consistently pushing for success and that is something that should always be thought about. In the process, it is important to note that sometimes team rush players through their serious injuries to help with their success. This is such a risky gamble because injuries need to be taken very seriously and can ruin their superstar’s careers if not treated with the proper care. The NHL is such a competitive and dangerous league that players need to be in their best state to be able to compete in it. Rushing a player is such a monumental mistake but teams often do this for the short term benefit of their squad.
With all of this said, let’s take a look at fifteen players who were rushed by their teams to come back. In doing this, these players have suffered through even worse injuries and some never played another NHL game again. There comes a point in these examples where it seems that these teams care more about the success of the team than the actual well being of their players. This is something that the NHL needs to be more aware of and that will be presented through these specific examples.
Nonetheless, here are the unfortunate fifteen times the NHL clearly didn't care for the health of their players.
15 Boston Bruins: Marc Savard
Marc Savard will forever be remembered by Boston Bruins fans as a true superstar and amazing playmaker. Savard was one of the main reasons why the Bruins had so much success years ago and ultimately was their best offensive player. Sadly, in 2010, Savard’s spectacular play was taken away from the Bruins by one hit.
In a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Matt Cooke laid a blindside hit on Savard and gave him a severe concussion. Although he would recover, the Bruins made a huge mistake and had him return far too early, which ultimately killed his play. Savard did not fully heal and got a career ending concussion in 2011, before the Bruins won their Stanley Cup.
14 Colorado Avalanche: Steve Moore
Steve Moore had a spectacular college career with Harvard University and made great strides in the NHL. As a member of the Colorado Avalanche, he solidified his role as their fourth line centre and was definitely on his way to becoming a quality NHL player. Yet, as we all remember, everything took a dark turn when Todd Bertuzzi jumped him and broke his neck in the process.
Moore is an interesting situation on this list because although he never returned to the NHL, he made far too many attempts far too quickly. The Avalanche should have directed him away from doing this because today Moore still feels the effects of his concussions. Moore should have been directed to avoid playing hockey for a far longer period.
13 Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby is the best player in the NHL today and has led the Pittsburgh Penguins to three Stanley Cups. It is apparent that Crosby has completely changed the success of the Penguins for the better because he has dominated the league for quite some time. Yet not too long ago the Penguins lost Crosby for a long time and almost permanently.
After receiving his first concussion in the NHL, the Penguins rushed him back far too quickly and he ended up getting a severe one. In two seasons, Crosby played just over sixty games due to head injuries and almost had to retire in the process. Although the Penguins have won championships since this incident, it is clear that they did not focus on Crosby’s safety enough back then.
12 Colorado Avalanche: Peter Forsberg
Peter Forsberg is one of the best NHL players of all time and will forever be remembered for leading the Colorado Avalanche to two Stanley Cup championships during his tenure there. Forsberg was the prized player that the Quebec Nordiques got in return for Eric Lindros and after the relocation it is clear that the Avalanche won that deal.
Forsberg was a player who could have accomplished so much more if he had stayed healthy. For a short while, many people considered Forsberg to be the best player in the NHL because of his spectacular playmaking ability and dominating stick handling. The Avalanche rushed him back far too quickly with his ankle problems and that ultimately cut his NHL career short.
11 Philadelphia Flyers: Keith Primeau
Keith Primeau was a huge force in the NHL during his career and will always be remembered for his tough style of play and strong goal scoring ability. Primeau was one of the most underrated superstars during his tenure in the NHL and never received the amount of praise he deserved. However, he is mostly remembered now for the end of his career.
During Primeau’s stint with the Philadelphia Flyers, Primeau started to suffer numerous head issues due to concussions and that ultimately stopped his career. Primeau had the chance to be captain of the Flyers and lead some very strong teams, but they never reached their full potential because of how injured he always was. They should have never rushed him back to play while knowing about his concussions issues.
10 New York Rangers: Derek Boogaard
Derek Boogaard was one of the scariest hockey players to ever play in the NHL and that can easily be seen by any of his highlight videos. During the entirety of his career Boogaard was the top fighter in the NHL and scared everyone who was on the ice. Although he had a lot of success fighting, the amount of punches he took to the head caught up to him.
Boogaard began to develop severe head injuries during his career and started taking painkillers to help the pain subside. Because of this, Boogaard passed away from a mixed overdose and his death is one of the saddest in the history of the NHL. After studying his brain, it also became clear that he developed CTE from his fighting. At the end of the day, the league should have showed more concern for the mental health of its players.
9 New York Islanders: Rick DiPietro
The New York Islanders made Rick DiPietro the first goalie to ever be selected first overall in the NHL draft, but sadly injuries completely ruined his career and restricted him from reaching his full potential. What made matters worse for DiPietro was that he was given one of the longest contracts in NHL history with his 15 year, $65.7 million dollar extension with the Islanders.
Soon after signing this monstrous contract, DiPietro suffered an abundance of injuries to his lower body that he never could fully recover from. DiPietro was never given enough time by the Islanders to fully heal because they were more focused on trying to make sure that this contract was not the biggest mistake in the history of franchise. Sadly rushing him made that become true.
8 Montreal Canadiens: Max Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty is arguably the best skater on the Montreal Canadiens and he is one of the main reasons behind their success since his arrival. He has blossomed into a top goal scorer in the NHL and is beloved by the city of Montreal for his amazing ability as a hockey player. Yet, there is a slim chance that he was rushed back to the league too quickly with his serious injury.
No one will ever forget the vicious hit that Zdeno Chara left on Pacioretty that led to his severe concussion and fractured neck vertebrae. Pacioretty had one of the worst injuries of this decade and realistically should have spent far more time away from the game. Now looking at him, it is easy to believe that another big hit could mark the end of his illustrious career.
7 New Jersey Devils: Scott Stevens
One of the biggest hitters in the history of the NHL, Scott Stevens had an unbelievable NHL career. Stevens was one of the biggest reasons why the New Jersey Devils won three Stanley Cups during his tenure there and it is easy to understand how he is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Yet the end of his career was truly disappointing for him.
As previously stated, Stevens was a player who never stayed away from the physical side of the game and that ultimately led him to suffer an abundance of concussions. Stevens wanted to finish his career with one more Stanley Cup for the Devils, but had to retire quicker than he wanted to. Knowing the success of New Jersey during that period, he easily would have.
6 Toronto Maple Leafs: Stephane Robidas
Stephane Robidas was a very solid two-way defenceman during his NHL career and had a handful of great seasons with the Dallas Stars. As he aged however, he became far more injury prone and ended up missing a lot of time due to a broken leg twice during the 2013-14 season. This should have marked the end of his career, but Robidas lucked out.
During the 2014 offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs surprisingly signed the aging defenseman to a three year, $9 million contract. This was a monumental mistake by the Maple Leafs because Robidas never could fully recover from the injury and only played parts of one season for the club. It is clear that Robidas should not have come back as quickly as he did with the Leafs.
5 Ottawa Senators: Clarke MacArthur
Clarke MacArthur has had a spectacular NHL career and many NHL fans truly hope that we have not seen the last of him. Although MacArthur is not an NHL superstar, he is a very talented two-way player who is marvellous leader in the locker room. MacArthur has spent the past few years battling numerous concussions and missed the majority of the NHL season last year.
When MacArthur came back to the Senators this past season, he actually had a lot of success and was a huge reason why they made the conference finals. Yet, it was reported that he did not pass his physical this offseason and will not play. It is fair to argue that MacArthur should not have come back this past year, as it may have triggered his head injuries to come back.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs: Joffrey Lupul
Joffrey Lupul was a very solid NHL player during his career, but injuries ultimately cut it far too short. As we all know, Lupul publicly voiced his dissatisfaction with not passing his physical this offseason and wishes that he could still be in the NHL. Due to being rushed to return numerous times, it is clear that Lupul will never play in the NHL again.
The worst part of Lupul’s situation is that he clearly had immense loyalty to the Maple Leafs and deserves the chance to play with them as they are a good team. However, it is apparent that Lupul has faced far too many injuries and never sat out long enough. Although Lupul was not a superstar in the NHL, his situation was handled far too poorly and is a sad one.
3 Anaheim Ducks: Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya will always be remembered as being the original face of the Anaheim Ducks and with that should always receive a great deal of respect for his contributions. Kariya is one of the greatest American hockey players to ever play in the NHL and when injuries started to continuously creep on him, it was truly a depressing time for hockey fans.
The head injuries started for Kariya when Scott Stevens hit him directly in the head during the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003 and it never fully healed. During that same game, the Ducks let Kariya back on the ice. Although he scored a goal after, this would end up being a big mistake by the team because his head became far more vulnerable and eventually forced him to retire prematurely.
2 Philadelphia Flyers: Eric Lindros
Eric Lindros was the best player in the NHL at one point, but that time was definitely far too short lived. Lindros was the face of the Flyers franchise and came close to winning them the Stanley Cup a handful of times. His career sadly came to a dramatic end when he started to go through an abundance of concussions, much like many players on this list.
Like Kariya, the main hit that led to Lindros’ decline came from Scott Stevens in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Lindros would miss significant time from the dirty hit from Stevens, but came back far too quickly. After this hit, Lindros would go through a handful of concussions before seeing his stats completely plummet and force him to retire far too young.
1 Boston Bruins: Bobby Orr
It is crazy to believe that Bobby Orr only lasted in the NHL for ten seasons, but was the best player of his time. Orr completely changed the role of the defenceman in the NHL by dominating not only on the back end, but statistically as well. Orr led the Bruins to a lot of success during the 1970s and won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenceman a record eight times.
However, Orr’s knee issues made his career far shorter than it should have been and that is in part because of the way the Bruins handled the situation. The Bruins knew that Orr was going through so much pain but did not address the issue with enough care. By the time Orr’s career ended in Boston, he barely could even walk, but still managed to play and succeed on the ice.