Lightning's most gruesome injuries
Kicked in the face with an ice skate. Just think about that for a second. Kicked. In the face. By an ice skate. That was what happened to Lightning star Marty St. Louis on Saturday in Ottawa. Reaching for a loose puck on a faceoff, St. Louis was accidently kicked by official Derek Amell. Incredibly, St. Louis needed only eight stitches to close a gash on his forehead and is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday night. St. Louis' injury is hardly the only freakish and gruesome injury the Lightning has suffered over the years. Here are a few that come to mind. It's no wonder the team is owned by a guy who makes those Saw movies.
Marty St. Louis
Saturday wasn't the first time St. Louis suffered a crazy injury. In November 2005 during a lazy Sunday morning practice, St. Louis was standing in front of the net on what seemed to be harmless power-play drill. Seconds later, St. Louis was grabbing his hand and spilling blood all over the ice. Looking to deflect the puck, St. Louis was hit on his left ring finger, which was fractured. Now for the part that makes you go, "Ewww!'' Doctors had to remove St. Louis' fingernail, stitch the nail bed and then reattach the nail.
But St. Louis is a hockey player. He was supposed to be out for a month. He missed two games and scored the only goal in his first game back -- a 1-0 victory against the Islanders.
This has to be the most gruesome injury in Lightning history. Chasing a loose puck during a game at Buffalo in 1996, Gavey was accidently clipped in the face by the skate of teammate Michel Petit. The skate zigzagged across Gavey's face from his chin, across the corner of his lips, up his right cheek to just around his right eye. He was helped from the ice and immediately raced to Buffalo General Hospital. Recounting the incident years later, Gavey said he felt fine until he heard paramedics telling the ambulance driver to hit the siren because "this guy might not make it.''
Gavey had three hours of plastic surgery and needed 120 stitches to close the cut. He returned to the lineup only a couple of weeks later. In 2000, Gavey said it was likely he would require surgeries as he grew older because many of the nerves in his face were severed. The scar, as you can see, remained long after the injury.
Certainly, the most freakish injury the Lightning has ever suffered. After a game early last season, Boyle was sitting at his locker talking to a teammate when a skate literally dropped from the sky and slashed his forearm. What happened was the skate fell from the hook that holds a player's skate above his locker.
"A one-in-a-million shot,'' assistant equipment manager Rob Kennedy said at the time. "I've never seen anything like it.''
The damage was severe. The skate blade cut his wrist and severed two abductor tendons and an extensor tendon. Boyle ultimately missed 45 games.
Just before Christmas in 1997, Burr, one of the more charismatic and humorous players in club history, was slashed on the left hand by a Boston player with a familiar name in these parts -- Rob DiMaio, who had two stints with Tampa Bay. At the time, Burr said, "I pulled my hand out of my glove and almost puked. It was the grossest thing that I have ever seen.''
What Burr saw was blood, lots of it. What he didn't see was the tip of his middle finger, which had been severed. The tip of Burr’s finger was re-attatched, but it didn't take. It eventually turned black and these days, Burr's left middle finger stops just above the top knuckle.
It's amazing how hockey players' instincts are, which is why they are almost never hit by a puck though it often travels at more than 100 mph. But sometimes something freaky happens, like in a game last season. Toronto's Hal Gill partly fanned on a slap shot from the point. The puck acted like a slow curveball and ended up striking a surprised MacDonald right in the chops. MacDonald suffered nine fractured teeth and needed three root canals and approximately 50 stitches inside his mouth.
In a 2003 playoff series against the Capitals, Cullimore was getting a puck behind this net. That was when he was checked legally, but hard, by Washington's Dainius Zubrus. Cullimore lost his balance and slammed face-first into the boards. Not the glass part, but the hard board itself. If that wasn't bad enough, Cullimore appeared to hit a part of the boards where one section meets another. That little crack did the damage. Cullimore needed 70 stitches to close the nasty cut on his lip and chin.
The funny thing about hockey fights is it's rare that anyone gets hurt. That is unless something freaky happens. During the Lightning's inaugural season, Tampa Bay tough guy Basil McRae squared off against Stu "The Grim Reaper'' Grimson. As the two grappled at center ice in old Chicago Stadium, tugging on each other's jerseys, McRae’s left skate caught a rut in the ice. The lower part of his leg went one way and the upper part went the other.
"I put all my weight on it,'' McRae said in 1992, "and I heard it snap.'' So did Grimson, who immediately let McRae go and skated away. Result: a spiral break of the left tibia. The injury could've been much worse, but McRae already had an 18-inch steel rod in the leg from a previous injury. Lucky for him, huh?
This was a case when someone actually did get hurt in a hockey fight. Hurt bad. Enforcer Reid Simpson only played 26 games for the Lightning back in the 1999-2000 season, but that was enough for 106 penalty minutes and an injury he will never forget. Simpson was fighting the Islanders' Eric Cairns when Cairns caught Simpson with a clean punch to the chin. The punch was so hard that it completely split open Simpson's chin bone. After, Simpson could actually put his fingers in his mouth and push down on his bottom teeth like it was a see-saw with each side of his now two chins moving up and down. Two months later, Simpson still hadn't played when he said his jaw felt fine but, "I don't know if it would feel fine if I got punched.''
In a January 2006 game, the defenseman was standing in front of his net. Then he felt like he had been shot. He never saw a slap shot that was deflected until it was too late. The puck ripped into his upper lip, causing a gash that left his upper lip flapping just below the left side of his nose. He laid on the ice, woozy from the hit when he started to taste blood. "I didn't realize I was cut until I got to the (bench),'' Sydor said at the time.
The cut required 70 stitches to his lip, gum and cheek. Even days after the injury, it appeared as if he had a golf ball jammed under his upper lip. Oh yeah, he didn’t miss a game.
Hey, gotta throw a coach in here. Demers was injured in his very first practice as Lightning coach in 1997. Everything was going well until he slipped on the ice and fell hard on his knee. Next thing you know, he needed fluid drained and spent several days coaching practices from the bench. Only with the Lightning, kids, only with the Lightning.