Mike Vogel of Washington Capitals blog Dump ‘n Chase caught up with Caps forward Matt Hendricks after Hendricks took a shot to the ear from teammate Alex Ovechkin. The incident occurred last Saturday and, as you may know, Ovechkin can rifle a puck with a fair bit of velocity.
“It hit me and it was kind of surprising,” says Hendricks. “It felt like somebody came up and hit me in the head with a baseball bat. It stunned me. I realized I was bleeding and pain was setting in. I knew it wasn’t good. I was pretty upset. I was thinking of all the worst possible injuries I could have had and I was hoping that it wasn’t going to be that bad.”
Hendricks quickly ran to the dressing room and looked in the mirror.
It was that bad.
(If you’re squeamish, don’t continue.)
(If you’re at a workplace that frowns upon pictures of split ears, don’t continue.)
(It’s gross, seriously.)
Okay, here we go…
“It wasn’t a pretty sight, that’s for sure,” Hendricks said.
“The Pens had a great plastic surgeon who came down to the rink and took good care of me. He was able to stitch the cartilage back together and then stitch the ear back together as a whole. And then there are a few more stitches in the side of my head.”
And just to re-affirm the notion that hockey players are insanely tough, Hendricks not only played the next day against Pittsburgh — he skated with Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer on Washington’s top checking line, assigned to shut down Evgeni Malkin.
That meant Hendricks, who usually averages around 10 minutes a game, was out there for almost 17 minutes, wearing a custom helmet to protect his mangled ear.
And just to re-affirm the notion that hockey players are insanely tough and potentially insane, Hendricks took a nasty shot to the head from Zbynek Michalek (which he returned from). Two nights later against Boston, he took a puck to the head that re-opened the ear and led to some serious bleeding.
True to form, Hendricks returned to that game as well…and played a career-high 17:45.