Maple Leafs' John Tavares Sent Group Text to Tell Team He Was OK After Scary Injury

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 21, 2021

TORONTO, ON - MAY 20: Toronto Maple Leafs staff attend ro Toronto Maple Leafs Center John Tavares (91) after he was injured during game one of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs on May 20, 2021 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews said John Tavares sent teammates a group text Thursday night to say his condition was improving after being stretchered off the ice during the team's first-round playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens.

"He texted us last night and said he was feeling better," Matthews told reporters Friday. "... There are some things bigger than hockey."

Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly added: "We're playing for him."

Tavares was falling to the ice after a hit from Habs blueliner Ben Chiarot when his head struck the knee of Montreal winger Corey Perry. The Leafs captain tried to get up to skate off but immediately fell back to the ice, creating a scary scene in Toronto.

Leafs winger Nick Foligno fought Perry on the first shift after the game resumed, but explained it wasn't a reaction to a dirty hit but rather a necessary move for the series to continue without further issue.

"Our captain is laying on the ice," Foligno said. "They would have done the same if [it was] their captain. [The hit] wasn't malicious. [The fight] takes away any grey [area]. Perry's a big boy. It just allows everyone to go back and play."

Toronto announced Friday that Tavares was discharged from a local hospital but will be "out indefinitely":

Leafs PR @LeafsPR

An update on @MapleLeafs captain John Tavares. pic.twitter.com/sV0dlfpdI8

The Canadiens went on to secure a 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the seven-game series with Paul Byron scoring the game-winning goal midway through the third period.

Game 2 is scheduled for a 7 p.m. ET puck drop Saturday on CNBC in the U.S. and CBC in Canada.