VANCOUVER - Vancouver Canucks players are calling for NHLers to wear kevlar socks in wake of Ottawa Senators' defenceman Erik Karlsson injury.
"It's a personal choice, but I don't see why guys wouldn't," said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who has twice overcome skate lacerations.
Karlsson suffered a severed Achilles tendon Wednesday after Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke stepped on the back of his leg.
"Short-track speed-skaters all wear (kevlar socks) because of the close contact with the blades," said Bieksa on Thursday. "It's still a freaky accident for it to happen. But (wearing kevlar) is a small step you could do to prevent it happening."
Karlsson underwent surgery to repair an Achilles that was 70 per cent torn.
Bieksa has twice been out because of skate cuts. He had his right calf slashed by Nashville Predator Vern Fiddler's skate in a game Nov. 7, 2007, then had his left leg cut while checking Peter Prucha of the Phoenix Coyotes on Dec. 29, 2009.
"I'm not going to reach out (to Karlsson), but I'd certainly talk to him if he had any questions about (the injury)," said Bieksa.
He said Karlsson must be prepared for a long rehabilitation period that will include setbacks and, above all, have patience.
"But he can do it," said Bieksa. "I did it. I'm sure he can do it, too. The main thing is just to be patient with the whole process."
The Canucks defenceman said his foot was "essentially paralyzed" and he could not wiggle his toes for doctors after his mishaps occurred. The second cut was not any easier to deal with than the first one.
"If anything, it was more frustrating the second time, because I knew the stages that I had to go through," he said. "And, I knew all the hard work and the monotonous exercises that I had to do."
Karlsson's injury hit home in a Vancouver dressing room familiar with Bieksa's plight.
"It's unfortunate," said defenceman Dan Hamhuis. "(Karlsson) is a real bright star in this game, and the game will miss him."
Most Canucks wear kevlar as a result of Bieksa's woes. Hamhuis said he has avoided cuts after skate blades contacted the back of his leg on a couple of occasions during the past two years.
"Skates cut my hockey sock," said Hamhuis. "I don't know if they had the strength to go through another one. Good thing I don't need to know."
Centre Ryan Kesler said Karlsson's injury was preventable.
"I think everybody should wear those (kevlar) socks," he said. "It's such an unnecessary injury. They have the technology out there to stop it."
Goaltender Roberto Luongo's legs are seemingly well protected by pads, but he will consider wearing kevlar socks.
"Obviously, it's something I have to look at," he said.
Meanwhile, Vancouver players defended Cooke, a former Canuck who has changed his former highly-penalized ways in recent seasons and has run afoul of league disciplinarians in the past. There was no way, the Canucks contended, that Cooke's actions were intentional.
"I don't think people understand how fast the game happens," said Kesler. "I think it's literally impossible to do something like that. It's just a quick play and it's unfortunate.
"He's a good guy, and he would never do something like that."
Bieksa doesn't think anyone would deliberately try to "stab" another player with his skate.
"Sometimes when you go in, the impact of the hit brings you off the ice, and your blade, if it snags or something, you're going to have a freak accident like that," he said.
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