Former teammate Marc Savard feels Nathan Horton’s pain

Ken Campbell
Nathan Horton  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

If it turns out that this is the last that we’ve seen of Nathan Horton as an NHL player, there will likely be a segment of the population that figures Horton has had it pretty lucky. After all, he played the game he loved at the highest level and has made $38 million doing it, with another $32.1 million coming to him in retirement.

What’s a little back pain when that’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Well, the money is nice, but it won’t replace the void that is created by being robbed of the opportunity to do something you’ve done since you were a child. And nobody knows that better than Horton’s former teammate Marc Savard, whose career was suddenly ended 25 games into the 2010-11 season, largely because of a concussion he sustained on a hit from Matt Cooke the season before. Read more

Mumps, welding torch burns and popcorn disasters: The NHL’s oddest medical issues

Corey Perry (Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks announced late Wednesday that star right winger Corey Perry and cornerstone blueliner Francois Beauchemin had (a) been diagnosed with the mumps, (b) are in various stages of treatment for the viral infection and (c) are sidelined on a day-to-day basis (Perry is considered closer to returning). Mumps aren’t a normal diagnosis for any NHLer, but over the course of league history, there have been a handful of out-of-the-ordinary medical situations like this to confront players. Here are a few examples:

• In 2009, Bruins center David Krejci was separated from the team during the season and quarantined with the H1N1 virus (a.k.a. the swine flu) until he stopped showing symptoms or a fever. Krejci was one of five NHLers (including Doug Weight, Ladislav Smid and Peter Budaj) to contract the virus that season. None of the affected players suffered serious aftereffects. Read more

Junior phenom Connor McDavid injured in a fight that’s indefensible

Adam Proteau
Connor McDavid (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Everyone with a cognitive apparatus in reasonable working condition should know by now that anyone who tells you nobody gets hurt in a hockey fight is not telling the truth. The latest example proving those people to be liars came Tuesday night when OHL superstar Connor McDavid suffered an apparent right hand injury in the first real fight of his burgeoning career.

McDavid’s Erie Otters were taking on the Mississauga Steelheads when, after the whistle, McDavid and Steelheads center Bryson Cianfrone decided to fight. By the end of it, McDavid was the worse for wear, leaving the ice holding his right hand gingerly in his left and subsequently heading to the hospital for x-rays. Read more

Was this NCAA coach a “#$%^ing classless #@!hole” this weekend?

Ryan Kennedy
Quinnipiac's Rand Pecknold (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Quinnipiac Bobcats stonewalled Cornell 1-0 on the weekend and even though Big Red coach Mike Schafer did touch on the lack of scoring from his team in the loss, it was far from his first topic of conversation in the post-game interview. No, Schafer was much more fired up about Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold:

Read more

Terrifying moment for Leafs’ Daniel Winnik after scary fall

Adam Proteau
Daniel Winnik (Doug Pensinger, Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Daniel Winnik had a frightening episode Thursday night in Colorado when a check from Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda left him motionless on the ice for several minutes before he was removed on a stretcher.

Winnik had just chipped the puck past Hejda at Colorado’s blueline in the first period when the Avs blueliner hit him with a clean check; Winnik’s feet kicked up and his head fell back, and he landed on the ice directly on his neck-and-upper-body area: Read more

Minnesota Wild’s Parise out indefinitely with concussion

Jared Clinton
Zach Parise

After missing the third period of Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Minnesota Wild have confirmed that Zach Parise will be out indefinitely with a concussion.

There’s uncertainty surrounding when Parise sustained the concussion, but there often can be with such a sensitive injury. What we do know is that with just over six minutes to play in the second period, Parise took a hit from Kris Letang. While it didn’t look like much, the Wild winger would only skate two more shifts, and has since been ruled out of Minnesota’s upcoming road trip, at the very least. Read more

Blackhawks depth will be challenged as Patrick Sharp goes down with injury

Jared Clinton
Patrick Sharp (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just when it looked like things were starting to click for the Chicago Blackhawks, it seems as though the team will be without Patrick Sharp for an extended period of time.

On Tuesday night, the Blackhawks went into the Bell Centre, a building in which they hadn’t won in over a decade, and defeated the Canadiens 5-0. The win, however, didn’t come without paying a certain price. Midway through the third period, with the game well in hand for Chicago, Sharp took a seemingly innocuous hit from Alexei Emelin and could not get back to his feet. Read more

Does Taylor Hall need to change his approach to the game?

Ken Campbell
Taylor Hall (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

As Taylor Hall sits on the sidelines for the next two-to-four weeks with a knee injury, the fourth significant wound of his young career, the time off might give him some time to reflect on his approach to the game. After all, Hall turns 23 next week and has a lot of productive NHL years ahead of him, assuming of course his aggressive approach to the game doesn’t cut his career short.

And therein lies the quandary for both Hall and his team. The Edmonton Oilers need Hall to be in their lineup every game, not three-quarters of them. He is emerging as the go-to offensive player and a leader on this young team and having him out of the lineup is an enormous blow. In fact, if this injury goes the distance or beyond, it’s not a stretch to suggest any hopes the Oilers have of making the playoffs this season will die.

But on the other hand, Hall’s devil-may-care attitude is part of what makes him such a great player and you don’t want to tame that. How do you tell a guy to stop going to the net so hard when going to the net and using his size is what makes him one of the best left wingers in the league today? (With Alex Ovechkin moving back to the right side, it’s a toss-up between Hall and Jamie Benn at the moment.)

Hall has been besieged by injuries, the latest of which came Saturday night when Chris Tanev of the Vancouver Canucks bowled Hall over on the way to the net before Hall’s right knee collided with the goal post. Some of Hall’s injuries have been because of youthful foolishness – his rookie season ended eight weeks early with a high ankle sprain he sustained in a fight with Derek Dorsett and he received a 30-stitch laceration because he wasn’t wearing his helmet during a warm-up. But it’s hard to blame Hall for the concussion he got when he fell and was accidentally kneed in the head by Cory Sarich or for needing shoulder surgery after being catapulted into the boards by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson.

Perhaps Hall might want to have a conversation with a guy like Wendel Clark. The Toronto Maple Leafs icon established himself as a fan favorite and NHL star by adopting a take-no-prisoners attitude, but it was also that approach to the game that wore his body down badly, caused him to miss enormous amounts of time and put a premature end to what might have been a Hall of Fame career had he stayed healthy and productive. The thing about playing that way is it’s very, very hard and it gets more difficult to endure it with every passing year. Peter Forsberg is another example of a player who found himself in the same conundrum as Hall in terms of finding a balance between playing with passion and disregard for his health and not being available to his team.

The Oilers will say they don’t mind seeing Hall fighting and driving to the net the way he does, but you’d think that privately it has to have them a little nervous. If this franchise is going to ever take a step forward, it’s clear it will have to be with Hall leading the way. And he can’t do that if he’s on the mend. As great a player as Forsberg was, later in his career his teams could not count on him being in the lineup from one game to the next.

Hall is nearly 23 years old and going into this season he had already missed 48 of a possible 294 games, which is about a quarter of his career so far. That might not seem like a lot, but as Hall gets older, those injuries and the residual effects from them are going to start piling up. It will take longer to get healthy and each one will have a more significant toll on his body.

For Hall, this is not about becoming more sheepish on the ice and shying away from contact. To ask him to do that would take away a major component to his game and make him far less effective. It would also amount to throwing out the baby with the bath water. What it is about, though, is playing with a little more regard for his health. Perhaps he doesn’t have to make himself so vulnerable when he carries the puck or goes into the corner, or maybe he takes an extra split second to figure out that he can’t drive to the net without a major collision and he looks for another option.

It’s definitely a fine line, but it’s one Taylor Hall is going to have to learn to toe if he and the Oilers have any hopes of becoming everything they want to be.