There are few certainties in sports, but one thing that fans can have faith in is the toughness of NHL players.
We are not here to denigrate baseball or basketball players, and we are certainly not going to question the dedication and toughness of NFL players, who go through violent collisions on nearly every play.
Bergeron was an ongoing concern throughout the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Through the first four games, he scored four goals, including three on the power play. But in Game 5, Bergeron suddenly slowed down in his skating and retreated to the Boston bench in the first period. He tried to give it a go in the second period, but he was unable to play.
Then came the news that he was taken to a Chicago hospital, with rumors that he had an injury to his spleen.
After that game, Bergeron flew home with the Bruins and head coach Claude Julien said that Bergeron would play in the sixth game. He played hard in the Stanley Cup-clinching game for the Blackhawks, but he was not at his best.
Boston fans didn’t know it beforehand, but Bergeron played with a broken rib and torn cartilage. During the sixth game, he also suffered a separated shoulder. It was also revealed that he sustained a small puncture in his lung, which Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports was caused by the fractured rib or a nerve-blocking injection.
Bergeron remains in the hospital. He may be near or at the top of the charts when it comes to playing with injuries, but he has plenty of company.
In the final series, Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks “got his bell rung” in the fifth game, yet he played effectively and decisively in the sixth game. He scored a goal and made the pass to Bryan Bickell that set up the tying goal with 1:16 to play.
In that same game, Andrew Shaw got hit in the face with a Shawn Thornton slap shot in the first period, which deflected into his jaw. He was down on the ice as if he had been hit with a Joe Frazier left hook. Shaw came back with two sets of stitches—one near his eye and one on his cheek—and was a force throughout the game.
Marian Hossa missed Game 3 and then came back to play the final three games of the series. After the series was over, Hossa revealed that his right foot was numb as a result of a back injury.
Bruins right winger Nathan Horton played with a dislocated left shoulder, which will require surgery.
It’s not just this year’s Stanley Cup Final, either. There are a litany of injury stories that are associated with playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
In the 2010 postseason, Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith was hit in the mouth by the puck in a Western Conference Final game against the San Jose Sharks. He lost seven teeth because of the impact, but he came back to play in the same game.
The Los Angeles Kings had a slew of injuries in this year’s conference finals against the Blackhawks. Mike Richards (concussion) returned to play in the fifth game and score the tying goal that sent the game into overtime. Justin Williams (separated shoulder), Drew Doughty (ankle) and captain Dustin Brown (posterior cruciate knee ligament tear) all played despite their injuries, according to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times.
Earlier in the playoffs, Francois Beauchemin of the Anaheim Ducks played the team’s first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings with a torn ligament in his right knee. Beauchemin underwent surgery after the series, but he played with the injury for a month, according to The Sporting News.
Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks provided the hockey player’s credo when he was sent tumbling into the boards by Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings in the second period of Game 3 of the conference semifinal series. Couture picked himself up and went into the locker room, but he played the third period and overtime. He scored the game-winning goal for the Sharks in the extra session.
“It’s playoffs. Everyone plays through injuries. The four years I’ve been here, I’ve seen guys play through a lot of injuries,” Couture told David Pollak of the Contra Costa Times. “Stanley Cup is what you’re playing for. Whatever it takes.”
There you have it. Couture identified the sense of commitment that hockey players have when pursuing the NHL’s ultimate prize.
Athletes in other sports may have it as well, but it seems to be universal in hockey players.