Coyotes goalie Mike Smith frustrated with NHL concussion protocol

Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith blasted the NHL concussion protocol Tuesday, saying there are a lot of kinks that need to be worked out.

"I think there's a lot of flaws in the system, especially with the goalie position, and it needs to get fixed," Smith told The Arizona Republic on Tuesday. "What stops a fourth liner from going and bumping into a goalie? It's just a two-minute penalty to get your starting goalie out? I don't think it's happened in a playoff game yet, but I'm sure it will."

Smith was removed in the third period of Monday's game against Anaheim after his mask came off following a collision with the Ducks' Jakob Silfverberg. The call to have Smith leave the ice and be evaluated under the protocol by an independent physician was made by an NHL spotter watching on a monitor in Toronto.

"When your helmet comes off in a game and you're the goalie and the whistle hasn't gotten blown, I think your first instinct is to probably protect your face," Smith told the Republic. "I think that was the reason why I did what I did and it has nothing to do with you being injured. It was more to protect myself before the whistle got blown. I didn't agree with the call at all.

"Once the spotter says it's a mandatory test, you have to come out of the game. I told our trainer I wasn't going to come out and they informed the ref, but the ref's not allowed to drop the puck until you leave the game." Smith wasn't cleared until there was approximately 90 seconds remaining in the game, and he just stayed in the training room and "wasn't happy."

"It's just a frustrating time. It's the most important time of the game and like I said, it's just an important game when those points matter for a goalie," Smith said. "If it's a playoff game, you can't afford for your goalie to be missing 12 or 13 minutes of one of the most important games of the year."

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett understands the frustration with the call to have a player removed being made by somebody watching on a monitor in Toronto, but knows nothing will change prior to the playoffs.

"The rule's not going to change," Tippett told the Republic. "I'm just telling you, that rule, from what I've heard, the NHL is going about their business and they're going to do everything in its power to make sure that player safety is top notch. They feel that's the key step in it. They're not going to put a player in jeopardy, players are going to have to recognize that, and that's the way it's going to go."

Said Coyotes captain Shane Doan: "I understand they're trying to protect us, but I think there has to be at times a little common sense, too, in figuring out how to handle it a little bit more to the situation. We understand it's just a game and we've got to protect our heads and that brain injuries are a problem, but common sense can also come into play a little bit. There's got to be a way to balance that out."