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Aaron Ekblad played too quickly after concussion, coach says

Florida Panthers coach and general manager Tom Rowe says he regrets rushing Aaron Ekblad back to the lineup after the defenseman suffered a concussion earlier this month.

Ekblad is now dealing with a sore neck and will not join the Panthers for their four-game road trip that begins Monday in Buffalo.

Although the neck injury is not believed to be related to the concussion, Rowe said he made a mistake in putting Ekblad back in the lineup so quickly.

"I'm not going to lie, I wish we didn't. That's on me," Rowe told reporters of playing Ekblad earlier this week. "The doctors cleared him, our medical staff cleared him, but I had some reservations and I wish I stayed with my gut. That's no one's fault but my own."

Rowe added that he should have given Ekblad more practice time before returning him to game action.

Ekblad had been out after suffering the concussion March 11 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He missed four games before playing against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday but didn't play in the next two contests after complaining of headaches related to the neck injury.

A two-time All-Star, Ekblad has posted 10 goals and 11 assists in 68 games this season. The Panthers enter Sunday seven points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.