Mike Danton becomes an unlikely hero as he helps teammate survive seizure

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To many in the hockey world, former St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton will be remembered solely for his surreal plan to hire someone to murder his former agent David Frost. Danton eventually spent five years in prison for charges related to that plot and finished his parole sentence in early 2011.

After spending some time getting his hockey career and life back together at St. Mary’s in Halifax, Danton announced that his journey would continue in a Swedish league. He eventually settled in with Swedish Division 1 team IFK Ore, where he became fast friends with players such as Marcus Bengtsson – a player he calls “Vanilla Gorilla.”

In a strange twist, Danton’s time in prison came in handy during a scary on-ice incident that made him an unlikely hero. Danton apparently became certified in a first aid course during his prison time, which gave him the proper knowledge to help Bengtsson survive a lengthy bout of convulsions after he received a late hit during a game.

Here’s an excerpt of Danton’s blog account of the incident, beginning with Danton realizing that his teammate was in a bad condition after taking that late hit. (Note: the full link includes some adult language.)

As I skated over, I caught the last part of Bangan’s face smashing into the ice. It was like a mallet pounding into meat. After a few choice words with the perpetrator, I heard a moan. As I bent down to see if Bangan was okay, that is when he started to convulse.

At first it was his legs, then his arms, then his eyes, then his entire body.

(snip)

His convulsions went on for what seemed like forever. Emergency help did take forever, as we are 35 minutes from the closest ambulance. There was nothing that we could do but wait and hope for the best. Our crew did a great job though. What must have been 6 or 7 minutes of convulsing all of a sudden stopped. His eyes opened and looked all around. Amongst the people talking Swedish to him I asked him if he was okay. ”Yes,” he replied. I asked him if he was sore or felt pain. ”No,” he said. I asked him if he knew where he was. ”Yes,” he stated. Weird, I thought. Then, I said, ”Manchester United sucks.” And he laughed. The Vanilla Gorilla was back. And it was at that time that I began to cry. I realized how close I was to losing a teammate, a line mate, a friend, and a member of the indigenous population of gorillas.

(Again, you can check out Danton’s full fascinating account of the harrowing but uplifting incident here.)

It’s certainly an unlikely story, but hopefully it’s just part of a redemptive process for the (once?) troubled winger. An NHL comeback is extremely unlikely, but if this story is any indication, Danton could still make a positive impact on the sport – one strangely nicknamed teammate at a time.

(H/T to Sean Leahy.)

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.