Brooks Laich's mashed face
"He's a young buck, he isn't cut up too much yet," Mike Knuble said,in discussing the newly mashed face of Caps winger Brooks Laich. " You don't have a career in the NHL until you break your face once, until you get a plate in it."
Laich, of course, took a John Carlson slapshot below his eye during Tuesday's practice; that wound earned him six stitches, "a lot of bruises and sutures," according to Bruce Boudreau, the pinnacle of injury report success -- Brooks Laich (face) -- and a variety of excellent one-liners.
"I expected worse," Eric Fehr said. "He's starting to look like a hockey player. He looks good."
"It looks better than it is, I think," Carlson said. "I don't know, I'm not a doctor."
"There goes my modeling career," Laich cracked.
"It's not a pretty face," Boudreau said. "And it was a pretty face."
Carlson's shot actually hit the crossbar first before pinging into Laich's face, and several players noted that isn't an unprecedented sort of injury. Crossbars have a way of deflecting pucks into faces.
Two years ago, Sabres winger Ales Kotalik needed about 20 stitches in his forehead after teammate Paul Gaustad's shot during warmups dinged off the crossbar and into his face.
"The cut was almost down to my skull," Kotalik told the Buffalo News.
Pavel Brendl once took a practice puck off the crossbar into the noggin and needed 11 stitches above his left eye. A minor-leaguer named Ken Boone ate a puck off a crossbar during warmups and needed six stitches on his lip. Mark Messier once got eight stitches on his forehead after heading a puck off the crossbar, though that was during a game. A quarter-century ago, a winger named Kevin Maguire was called up by the Maple Leafs for a game, promptly took a shot off the crossbar into his brow, needed 20 stitches and missed the game.
"Definitely not the first time I've seen it," Carlson said. "Actually, my first day wearing a visor I got high sticked, got 10 stitches in my face, just in practice. Little things like that happen, and it's no harm no foul really. You feel really bad about it, but you can't really help it. It's just something that happens."
"It's unfortunate, but it's what happens," agreed Knuble, who pointed to at least two spots in his head that had required plates during his hockey career. "That's why you don't go near the net too much in warm-ups: guys are ripping [shots]. Sometimes it's careless. You know, you yell at guys all the time, like, 'What the [bloody heck] are you doing?' Guys are skating around the net, close to the net, and they're ripping it, trying to put it right up in the joint. That's a sorry way to go down, by friendly fire."
Knuble wasn't in any way suggesting that Carlson was to blame; the veteran hadn't even seen the incident, since he was already off the ice and in the shower. And Boudreau said if this were the playoffs, "we'd probably find a way to play" Laich. The coach originally joked that he was going to send Carlson down to the minors for the incident, but the rookie seemed to feel enough remorse as is.
"I talked to [Laich] after it happened," Carlson said. "It's just unfortunate, but it happens in hockey. There's numerous times that everyone's like, 'Whoa, that just rang right by my face.' It happens, and obviously I feel bad about it, but it's part of the game."
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