Steve Mason sees promising backup season interrupted with concussion
The Winnipeg Jets announced some bad news on Monday morning.
Per Michael Russo of The Athletic, backup Steve Mason will be out with a concussion for Winnipeg’s upcoming game against the Minnesota Wild. The head injury, per Russo, was sustained during the Jets’ last game, when they fell 4-0 to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
The news is devastating for Winnipeg, who were just seeing Mason get things rolling before he went down with the injury.
He had allowed two goals on 11 shots in his abbreviated appearance Saturday, but the four games before that were all stellar statistically – and the last two had been wins, to boot.
At the very best, you can assume that Mason will be out for a week, giving him the requisite recovery time for standard concussion protocol if it’s nothing serious.
At worst, though, he could miss weeks, if not months – which, for Winnipeg, is a blow to a goaltending tandem that was finally hitting its stride.
When Mason won his first game of the season for the Jets, his team couldn’t have been happier for him. It hadn’t been his fault they’d lost his first few appearances, insisted head coach Paul Maurice in Arizona; getting to finally see the result that went with the performances he was delivering was a huge step for both the new backup and for the team.
Mason himself was thriving in the new role, too.
He’d been treating practice no differently than if he were still a starter, keeping his game fresh with constant work on the ice alongside Connor Hellebuyck. In recent years, he tossed some discomfort from his game – on his glove side, he scrapped the use of reverse-VH in favor of the traditional VH (lining his inside leg up along the post while leaving his back leg horizontally along the ice) – and he’s been rigorously focusing on how to read his new teammates up in Northern Canada.
Now, he could be out for a while. That’s disappointing, no matter how much we’re all rooting for Connor Hellebuyck’s dominant year so far.
He’s not alone, of course. Head injuries have taken out a small handful of goaltenders this year already, and Mason will just join the list.
First, it was Marc-Andre Fleury. The new face of the Vegas Golden Knights netminding tandem – which, at this point, is more of a netminding flock – has sat out for a month and a half now, and counting. His injury was the result of a clip on the side of the head, a reminder that the types of interference calls Carey Price saw earlier this week don’t always have a quick resolution.
Then, there was Antti Raanta of the Arizona Coyotes.
Although his injury has yet to be confirmed as a concussion, he was pulled from his last game for Arizona and missed this past weekend’s contests with what’s listed as an upper-body injury. If, as suspected, he is dealing with post-concussion symptoms as well, that will make two starters in the Pacific Division alone dealing with the issue.
Now, there’s Mason as well.
It should be a unique opportunity for Eric Comrie, who has been recalled to fill the role Mason will leave for the time being. In what’s supposed to be a promising bounce-back year for Mason, though, it’s hard not to feel for him.