He wondered about his health and his mind and even his future. There was plenty of time to mull over every undesirable possibility during Nikita Soshnikov’s summer of distress. “I’m thinking about it every day, you know, and waiting until when the day is coming when you feel fine,” said Soshnikov. “Every morning you’re waking up expecting to feel normal again.” Day after day of disappointment. The 23-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs winger would start a workout and immediately feel “foggy” when his heart rate rose. He returned to the ice in June, but something wasn’t right. So he’d take a couple days off to “reset” and then put his skates back on. It felt like an endless cycle. “Try again, try again, try again,” he said. Soshnikov last played for the Maple Leafs on March 20. He took two offensive zone hits in that game from Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and neither really stood out as dangerous at the time. However, Soshnikov gave up 10 inches and 65 pounds in those exchanges and appeared to strike the side of his head on the glass with each. He was on the ice in the final minute as Toronto protected a one-goal lead against the Bruins that night and consulted with the training staff afterwards. It was a concussion. The first documented one of his career. Naturally, it was officially labelled an “upper-body injury” by the team – a development that didn’t raise much alarm since Soshnikov had experienced shoulder issues in the past. His absence also triggered the series of events that saw Kasperi Kapanen called up for the push to the playoffs and a first-round series with Washington.
Nikita Soshnikov’s NHL chances damaged by summer of distress
Sportsnet | Sep 26