Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Upper Body, Lower Body?

by Jan Snyder

Is it just me or is anyone else tired of hearing about upper and lower body injuries in hockey? Seems to me that before this season, the designation of upper and lower body happened only during the playoffs when the teams searched for any possible edge on their opponents.

  Forrmer Red Wing, Jiri Hudler, reeling from a hit
during the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs

But this year we hear it constantly, now, during the season. Why? If we see one of our favorite players hardly able to walk, we can assume it’s a leg injury. If they go over the ice dragging their arm, the problem could be a shoulder injury. Why can’t we, as fans, know what’s wrong so we have some idea when the player will be coming back?

After all an upper body injury could be anything from a hangnail to a paper cut to a dislocated shoulder or cracked rib. A lower body injury? An ingrown toenail? Blisters? Torn ACL? How can we know? What if you are like me and travel to see teams. Maybe there is a particular player you really want to see in action. Right before you are to leave you get the news of the dreaded “upper body” injury. Should you cancel the trip? Hope he’ll recover from whatever the malady is in time for the game you are attending?

Or am I being too harsh? Does non-reporting of injuries keep the players who have shoulder injuries from being slammed into the boards with a little extra gusto when they return to the lineup?

The Pittsburgh Penguins stated earlier this year that they would be willing to say what the player injuries are, but if they did, they put their players at a disadvantage because the other teams aren’t fessing up. I just don’t like surprises, good or bad. If a player is hurt, I’d like to know what the problem is so I can have some kind of feel for when he might play again. I just wonder why this is happening this year when it hasn’t before.

Injuries and More Injuries

Maybe I’m just noticing this lack of reporting because there have been so many major injuries to so many big name players. According to USA Today, more than 230 players have missed at least one game with injury. Some teams have been fielding, in essence, minor league teams because so many of the regular players are out. Cam Ward, Carolina goalie, suffered a horrible cut from a skate while broken arms and legs, torn up knees and assorted other major problems have kept a plethora of players out of lineups. Poor Ottawa goalie, Pascal Leclaire, was just sitting on the bench when a puck came out of nowhere, struck him in the face and fractured his cheekbone. And how about Florida goalie, Tomas Vokoun, who suffered the ultimate – a smack in the head from his own defenseman! Angry, that he’d let in a goal, Keith Ballard, swung his stick with a lot of force, meaning to hit the goal post. Unfortunately, Vokoun’s ear got in the way and he crumpled to the ice, bloodied and dazed. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Talk about a tough day at the office!

Hopefully, this won’t be reported as an “upper body” injury, since everyone in the hockey world saw what happened – but I won’t be surprised if it is.

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