SAN JOSE – Radim Simek said he couldn’t understand why the NHL didn’t issue any supplemental discipline to the Minnesota Wild forward who checked him in the head, a hit that has forced the Sharks defenseman to miss multiple games as he recovers from what he said was a mild concussion.
Simek, in his first shift in a Nov. 13 game against the Wild, had already released the puck when was hit in the head by Mason Shaw’s shoulder. Simek immediately left the ice, did not return, and was placed on injured reserve the next day.
The hit was missed by the officials, which Simek said was understandable. But he remains unsure as to why Shaw was not fined or suspended by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for a headshot that caused a significant injury and could have been avoided.
“(Shaw) had a chance to hit my body but he didn’t even try to hit my body. He went through my head,” Simek told this news organization. “I think it was a dirty, dirty play. So I was really (upset by it). But I have to change now. I have to just practice and be ready for another game. That’s all I can do.”
Simek has had concussions before but added that this was the worst hit he’s taken.
“(My chest) was open for (Shaw) and he could hit my body, you know? If he hit my body, I (would be) OK, because it would have been a clean hit,” Simek said. “But he went just for my head and to me, it was a dirty hit.”
Simek’s condition improved early last week and he began to skate again Thursday. He was on the ice Monday when he was eligible to be activated, but remained on IR and will miss his fourth straight game as the Sharks play the Ottawa Senators at SAP Center.
Simek has passed off-ice tests and barring a setback, is expected to practice again Tuesday morning and fly with the team to Seattle, as the Sharks play the Kraken on Wednesday night. Sharks coach David Quinn said he wanted to get Simek in a full practice before he decided whether to insert him into the lineup.
“Your head is not like your hand. You have to be careful because you have the rest of your life,” Simek said.
After Wednesday, the Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings on Friday and the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Rookie defenseman Nick Cicek has taken Simek’s spot in the lineup and has earned kudos from Quinn for his play. But the Sharks were 1-2-0 in Simek’s absence before Monday’s game.
Simek, 30, had played in all 17 games this season before the injury, with one goal and a -8 rating, as had been paired mostly with Mario Ferraro.
As one of the Sharks’ more physical defensemen, Simek had averaged 14:43 of ice time per game, a noticeable jump from the 13:17 he averaged last season under former coach Bob Boughner.
“The first 10 games, I think it was pretty good. I was feeling like my first season,” in 2018-19, Simek said of his play so far this year. “I had chances and I scored a goal, but I’m not happy with plus-minus.
“I’m feeling confident and I’m feeling support from the coaching staff, and that’s important for a player. If your coach doesn’t trust you, it’s hard to play. But they trust me so far hopefully they will trust me this season and hopefully, I will keep playing well.”
COMINGS AND GOINGS: Noah Gregor and Jonah Gadjovich, who have each been healthy scratches for five straight games before Monday, were both expected to be back in the lineup Monday.
Gregor and Gadjovich’s last game was on Nov. 10 in St. Louis when the Sharks lost 5-3 loss to the Blues. The Sharks followed that loss with three straight wins to end the road trip but began their homestand with losses to Detroit and the New York Rangers.
With Gregor and Gadjovich going in, Oskar Lindblom and Evgeny Svechnikov were expected to become the healthy scratches.
NET SWITCH: Goalie Kaapo Kahkonen will start Monday after James Reimer had been in net for the Sharks’ last five games.
Kahkonen’s last game was in St. Louis, as he allowed four goals on 32 shots, but before Monday, was also the only Sharks goalie to earn a win at home, as he made 22 saves in a 4-3 San Jose win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 27. Kahkonen entered Monday with a 1-4-1 record and a .878 save percentage.