Having watched the playoffs so far, we have seen our fair share of injuries so far. Whether it be Steven Stamkos missing time for the Tampa Bay Lightning, or Philipp Grubauer leaving the game last night for the Colorado Avalanche. It had me thinking about something… The NHL has had its fair share of injury-prone players as well throughout its 100+ years. Today, however, I’m going to pin it down to three players. These three have been notorious for having many injuries that either ended their careers or just lead to their downfall overall.
Whether you’re a Philadelphia Flyers fan or not, any hockey fan knows how tough Eric Lindros was. His physical style of play brought back memories of how hard-hitting the NHL was “back then”. You could watch highlights today and be amazed at how he was able to contribute offensively, and rock oponents. With that being said, Lindros wasn’t always the healthiest player. Unlikely for him, he found himself on the injured reserve quite often. One injury back in 1999 comes to mind. A collapsed lung that was caused by a vicious cross-check against the Nashville Predators.
Lindros also suffered numerous concussions throughout his career. One infamous concussion happened back in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals. Facing off against the New Jersey Devils in a pinnacle game 7, Devils’ defenseman Scott Stevens hit Lindros with his shoulder, which put him on the ice, unconscious. As teammates helped him up, he went back to the locker room, and never returned to the game. For the rest of his career, the only other significant inmjuries were wrist injuries. Lindros would retire in 2007. A shame that a player like this could’ve done much more and maybe won a Stanley Cup. But, while Lindros’s career was legendary, this next player’s career had a lot of problems on Long Island.
When the New York Islanders were awarded the first overall pick in the 2000 NHL Draft, they used the pick to select a player of an unusual position for a first overall pick. Selecting goalie Rick DiPietro, the Islanders seemed to have the idea that they had their goalie of the future. DiPietro did not play very well at the beginning of his career but eventually found his game during the 2003-04 season and 2005-06 season. In 2006, the Islanders infamously “awarded” DiPietro a 15- year contract worth $67.5 million. This contract began a wave of many bad things to come for DiPietro and the Islanders.
Some of these injuries started in 2005 and 2006. Injuries included knee injuries, concussions, and groin injury. Perhaps the strangest injury came in the 2008 All-Star Skills Shootout Competition. DiPietro injured his hip trying to stop a shot from Marian Gaborik who played with the Minnesota Wild at the time. The former first overall pick also suffered a broken orbital socket during a goalie brawl with Brent Johnson against the Pittsburgh Penguins back on February 2nd, 2011. Rick DiPietro retired in 2013. In a way, I feel really awful for DiPietro here. He could’ve really panned out and been the next Islander great. But instead of remembering DiPietro as a former NHL great, he is now remembered as an injury-prone, first overall bust. Next up, a player who played 21 years in the NHL. However, he managed to have more than enough injuries in those years to be remembered for.
While younger fans may not know who he is, longtime hockey fans remember Sami Salo for his injuries. What’s interesting about Sami was he was the third-to-last pick in the 1996 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators. Salo began his NHL career in the 1998-99 season but only played three games before suffering his first injury. From there it seemed that Salo would see more time on the injured reserve than actually on the ice. His injuries come from all over the place. While I don’t have time to go over all of them, here are a few examples of some. Back in 2000, he missed two games due to getting a snake bite. He’s also had a concussion, a groin injury, broken ribs, and a right MCL injury. But perhaps the biggest injury came when he was on the Vancouver Canucks in 2010.
In the 2010 playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks, Sami Salo exited the 2ndperiod of Game 5 with a groin injury. A slapshot by Duncan Keith seems to hit Salo in the groin as the 2ndperiod just ended. Salo stayed down up until trainers helped carried him off the ice and into the locker room. Salo was then taken to a local hospital. He did not return for Game 5. The injury turned out to be being a ruptured testicle. What’s even braver is that Salo decided to play through it in Game 6 of that series. Fans in Vancouver loved Salo’s determination so much that on the first powerplay for the Canucks, fans chanted “Balls of Steel”. Salo would play four more years in the NHL before retiring in 2014.
Despite all the injuries, these players are still remembered by many fans today. It’s always so sad to see however how careers could change if they were never injured at all. In fact, all the teams I mentioned could’ve won a Stanley Cup. Lindros and Salo were the two closest players to getting one. But this is a good article to show someone you know who’s an athlete. Maybe this would give them ideas on how to train better. But at the end of the day, I’m glad to learn more information on these players.
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