Concussion Traps Cullen Between Syracuse, Dayton

By Lindsay Kramer
Staff Writer
© 2007 The Post-Standard

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – When center Joe Cullen envisioned himself sticking around in the American Hockey League, this wasn’t what he had in mind.

Cullen is trapped between limbo and a downtown hotel room in Syracuse. He has his promotion but also has nothing at all.

Cullen, 26, was called up by the Crunch from Dayton of the ECHL last week. In his first game with Syracuse, against Albany on March 2, he suffered a concussion. He can’t play but, since he is hurt, he also can’t be sent down to Dayton right now.

“I knew when I got called up here it was a chance. At the beginning, it was an ideal situation,” Cullen said. “When they said I had a concussion, it was just heart-breaking. I don’t know what’s going to happen after this.”

For now, there’s just a lot of sleeping. He said he’s fine when relaxing, but he has been getting headaches when exercising. Thursday, he rode a stationary bike for 30 minutes then got a small headache. At the very least, he is out through this weekend.

Cullen, whose older brother, Matt, plays for the New York Rangers, said he can’t remember getting hit against Albany. He recalls reaching for the puck, and then the Rats’ Cody McLeod blasted him from behind into the boards. The next thing Cullen said he remembers is kneeling on the ice.

Cullen’s diversion to the ECHL this season came at a time when he looked like an established AHLer. In the past three seasons, he had played only at that level with Toronto, Edmonton, San Antonio and Binghamton.

Whether Cullen’s latest AHL window has closed won’t be known until he’s better and playing again. But his case wasn’t helped on Thursday, when Columbus returned forwards Curtis Glencross and Zenon Konopka to the Crunch.

In a move going the other way, forward Alexandre Picard was promoted to Columbus.

“Right now I can’t worry about everything else that’s going on,” Cullen said. “I’m up here, I hope to stay here now. All I can do is try to get healthy now, play well, see what happens.”