Islanders' Clutterbuck 'sick to his stomach' after hit that gave Brannstrom concussion

Cal Clutterbuck addressed the hit after the game, saying he felt awful about what happened to Brannstrom.

Erik Brannstrom of the Ottawa Senators was injured on a check by Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Erik Brannstrom of the Ottawa Senators was injured on a check by Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom was removed from the ice on a stretcher after taking a big hit from New York Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck in the second period of Thursday's game.

Brannstrom had just released the puck at the Islanders' blue line when Clutterbuck body-checked him into the boards. Brannstrom appeared to hit his head and/or neck area on the ice when he landed.

Players from both teams remained on the ice while the Swede was tended to by medical personnel. Senators coach D.J. Smith told reporters on Friday that Brannstrom suffered a concussion on the play.

New York went on to defeat Ottawa 3-2 to snap a three-game losing streak.

While some viewed Clutterbuck’s hit as late, others believed there was “nothing malicious” about the check. Clutterbuck did not receive a penalty on the play.

Entering play on Thursday, Clutterbuck ranked 11th among NHL players with 627 hits since 2000-01. The 35-year-old’s long history of physical play prompted some Senators fans and observers to argue that he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Clutterbuck addressed the hit after the game, saying he felt awful about what happened to Brannstrom.

“I turned around and everyone was yelling. You just hate to see it," Clutterbuck said, via Islanders reporter Andrew Fantucchio. "I'm sick to my stomach about it. I was then and I still am now. We're all human beings here.”

By current standards, it would be surprising if there was any supplemental discipline for Clutterbuck. Moments like these may inspire a bit more discussion about policing hits on players who’ve already released a puck, whether that means calling more interference penalties or handing out more fines and suspensions.

For the most part, it seems like an unfortunate result from a sort of hit that happens fairly often, frequently without incident.

Brannstrom was part of the trade package Ottawa received when it sent Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights in 2019. The 17th pick of the 2017 NHL Draft has played in 197 NHL games, recording four goals and 45 assists. He's been held without a point through seven games so far this season.