Tag: Bryan Berard

Kevin Connolly, Bryan Berard

PHT Morning Skate: Islanders documentary due in mid-October


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Good news Islanders fans, your ESPN 30 for 30 documentary is due to premiere on October 22. The bad news? It’s about criminal former owner John Spano. It’s all right though, it’s directed by big Isles fan, Entourage star Kevin Connolly (pictured with Bryan Berard). (Islanders Point Blank)

Vancouver re-signed defenseman Yann Sauve to a new deal. Hooray depth! (Canucks)

Is Wayne Gretzky that much closer to joining MLSE? A former Maple Leafs beat guy thinks so. (Howard Berger via Twitter)

A surprising upside to Detroit signing Daniel Alfredsson? Him being a right-handed shot. (Detroit Free Press)

Heads up stat nerds: Check out these zone entry numbers from last season. Know who’s pretty good? Anze Kopitar. (Shutdown Line)

Chris Pronger’s eye injury proves again why visors should be mandatory

Chris Pronger

Last night we were horrified by seeing Flyers captain Chris Pronger hunched over screaming in pain after taking a high-stick to the eye. Seeing a gargantuan and intimidating man like Pronger hunched over in terror that perhaps he’d had his eye irreparably injured is an awful sight for anyone to see but it’s something that’s very preventable thanks to visors.

Of course, visors aren’t mandatory in the NHL and over the past few years we’ve seen situations like this happen far too often where a player takes a stick or a puck in the eye that would’ve been prevented or deflected by a plastic visor. We saw Manny Malhotra go through the same horror late last season. Bryan Berard famously nearly lost his eye years ago and Steve Yzerman too nearly suffered such an injury when he was playing. Ian Laperriere said he’d wear a shield after taking a slap shot off his forehead. Of course, he’s still dealing with concussion problems from that shot. Things don’t always work out as planned.

While Pronger’s diagnosis seems to be good with a 2-3 week timetable for return, the Flyers are making him comeback with a visor when he’s ready to play. Why not just have all players wear them all the time, instead and spare the players the terror of seeing another of their colleagues suffer a needless injury.

We’ve made this case before, and we stand by it. The AHL already makes visors mandatory, it’s high time that the NHL and NHLPA got caught up with the times and protected themselves.

Amazingly, Manny Malhotra skated with the Canucks today


While I highly doubt* that he has any chance to return for the playoffs, Vancouver Canucks center Manny Malhotra skated with the team and on his own today. (This link contains brief video footage of Malhotra skating.)

In case you’re wondering, the Canucks lost Malhotra for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs when he was struck in the eye by a puck. The fact that he was skating today doesn’t change that, but it could be a heartening (yet small) step forward in his recovery process.

The Canucks found a way to get to the Western Conference finals without their excellent penalty-killing depth center, but his presence might be missed the most in Round 3. Whether Vancouver’s opponent is the Detroit Red Wings or San Jose Sharks, the team’s penalty kill will be pushed to the limit in either situation. The Red Wings and Sharks are also strong squads in the faceoff circle, another area of dominance for Malhotra. (That being said, Ryan Kesler isn’t far behind Malhotra in faceoff winning skills, so they probably won’t get killed in that category either.)

Here are Canucks GM Mike Gillis’ comments on Malhotra’s comeback prospects and the team’s expectations, via Ben Kuzuma of the Vancouver Province.

“I have no answer for that question,” said Canucks general manager Mike Gillis. “Today was about taking the next step in his recovery and he wanted to do some light skating,” said Gillis. “This is just a small step in his recovery. There is no timetable and there’s no schedule with an injury like this. He’s at this point because everything seems to be stable and it’s just another step. We’ve never asked and we’ve never been given a timeline.

“It’s about how he’s recovering. It’s basically day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month. We’re optimistic and just holding our breath about his ability to continue to recover. His recovery is the paramount thing and we’ll make decisions along the way and it never entered into our minds about playing, this is about his health. We’re just going to let the process take whatever time it requires.”

No doubt about it, Malhotra is far from ready to return and might not ever have the necessary range of vision to return to NHL competition.

The two most prominent examples of somewhat similar eye injuries happened to Detroit Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman and journeyman offensive defenseman Bryan Berard. Yzerman retired after suffering an eye injury while Berard’s promising young career was greatly altered when Marian Hossa’s stick accidentally caught him in the eye. Berard improbably played parts of six seasons after that injury, but he never regained the form that made him the first overall pick of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft and the 1996-97 Calder Trophy winner.

It’s possible Malhotra’s career hasn’t turned out the way some expected when he was the No. 7 overall pick of the ’98 draft, but he found a way to make himself an extremely useful NHL player. It would be a real shame to see his career cut short at age 31, but we’ll have to wait and see if he can make a comeback.

Today’s practice was the heartening first step.

* Make that “highly, highly, highly” doubt it.

Mike Mottau taken to hospital after puck hits his eye

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Unfortunately, there haven’t been any updates in the last hour, but the New York Islanders faced a much tougher situation than continuing their losing streak (which they did) today. Defenseman Mike Mottau was taken to the hospital after a puck struck him in the eye, according to Katie Strang.

Again, I haven’t heard an update on Mottau’s condition since Strang’s update, but we’ll keep an eye on the situation as news trickles in.

To give you some perspective (without seeing a clip of the injury), eye injuries have been career-ending or career-altering events for a handful of players. Steve Yzerman and Al MacInnis were forced into early retirement because of eye injuries, while Bryan Berard went from a bright young defenseman to a marginal NHL player after a brutal stick to the eye.

Does this mean that Mottau’s career is over? By no means, but it’s difficult not to worry if this might impact his career (or even his vision off the ice) permanently. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best, but it’s a scary situation to say the least.