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Hockey, there's nothing else like it (RED WINGS)

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by cls, Jun 16, 2009.

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  1. cls

    cls Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Hockey, there

    <i>The article below is from today's Detroit Free Press. It's hard to believe the Wings even made it to Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs... cls</i>

    You cringe when you hear of pain Wings endured


    "On the afternoon of May 24, as his Red Wings teammates took the ice in Chicago for Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, captain Nicklas Lidstrom wondered about the future of his testicles. He had woken up that morning, like every other morning of his life, with two. He was worried he would go to bed that night with one.

    "When I first saw the doctor in the morning, he asked me if I had any kids, and if I planned on having more kids," said Lidstrom, 39, who has four sons.

    Two days earlier, the Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp had speared Lidstrom in his testicles. Lidstrom practiced the next day, which says something about the man; you don't have to be Allen Iverson to think speared testicles are a good reason to skip practice.

    But when Lidstrom woke up on the 24th, he was in too much pain to play. He needed surgery immediately. Now here was this doctor, telling Lidstrom he might emerge from anesthesia with one testicle.

    "He said he didn't know until he actually went in there and looked," Lidstrom said.

    When Lidstrom woke up, the doctors quickly told him surgery had been successful, and everything was right where he'd left it.

    This, friends, is why hockey people say they have the toughest postseason in sports. And it was even tougher on the Wings this year than it usually is.

    "I think it was more than what we've seen in the past," Lidstrom said Monday as the team cleaned out its lockers. "We've had some injuries in the past, too. But from when the playoffs started ..."

    Kris Draper took a stick to his throat, then suffered a groin injury.

    Andres Lilja suffered a concussion in a fight late in the season and didn't play again. Lilja said Monday that he had had concussions before (although many concussions go undiagnosed), and you have to wonder about Lilja's career. He said when the headaches went away, he would try to play again. But it has been more than three months, and they have not gone away.

    Brian Rafalski, who plays alongside Lidstrom on the blue line, felt pain in his back one day and figured it would go away. The next day, Rafalski couldn't walk. He had a herniated disk. Five games and two epidurals later, he was back on the ice.

    "I sort of learned to live with it," Rafalski said. "I had a little tingling down my leg, some numbness."

    Just as Rafalski learned to play with an injury that would keep a lot of people out of a desk job, he separated his shoulder. I asked him what grade the separation was. He said he didn't know. He never asked.

    "Doesn't matter," he said. "Here's some pills. Get out there and play. Luckily it's my top hand so I could still shoot."

    Despite these injuries, Rafalski and Lidstrom mostly contained Sidney Crosby in the Stanley Cup finals. They were each plus-11 in the playoffs.

    "We did play well," Lidstrom said. "But I don't think we contributed offensively as much as we could have."

    And yet, when I asked Lidstrom which Wings impressed him most with their toughness in the playoffs, the first name he mentioned was Dan Cleary. Lidstrom said Cleary had "two partial tears in his groin." Every stride on the ice must have been excruciating for Cleary. He played every game, scored 15 points and was plus-17.

    But the most unusual injury was Lidstrom's. He still doesn't know exactly how Sharp's stick inflicted the damage; he hasn't sought out a replay.

    "Sometimes it happens when you're trying to lift someone's stick, or catch someone," he said. "It does happen accidentally."

    Now, we all know Nicklas Lidstrom doesn't get mad very often. But surely that had to make him mad. He admitted he uttered a few profanities.

    Is he angry now?

    "Not angry, no," Lidstrom said. "A lot of things happen out there on the ice. But it was painful. I can tell you that.""

    Contact MICHAEL ROSENBERG: 313-222-6052 or mrosenberg@freepress.com.

    <i>Show me an NBA player who would return for practice the day after a serious testicle injury... cls</i>
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