If blocking shots is an art, Washington Capitals winger Daniel Winnik put his body on the line to deliver the van Gogh of shot blocks in the Capitals’ 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Midway through the third period, with the Panthers on the power play and Winnik out on the penalty kill, the puck found Florida winger Reilly Smith’s tape. Smith worked his way to the middle of the ice to unleash a shot as Winnik dropped to the ice to block the attempt.
Smith’s shot stayed low and went right at Winnik’s head, and though the veteran winger was able to turn in time to avoid any serious damage to his face, the side of his head took the impact. After blocking the shot, Winnik stayed down for a short while before climbing to his feet and leaving the ice, but he was able to return before the end of the contest. Only problem was that when he returned he was missing part of his ear.
Yes, you read that right: Winnik went into the game with two whole ears, and left the contest with one and a bit. To hear Barry Trotz tell the story, one would be led to believe this is a completely normal occurrence.
“He got the puck sort of in the ear hole and it sort of pinched off his ear,” Trotz said post-game, according to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan. “Trainers looked at him, and he was fine, just missing a piece of his ear. It got chewed up a bit. It’s just a small piece, but it got chewed up.”
Given that things could have ended much worse for Winnik had he not turned his head in time, he’ll probably be thankful that a small piece of his ear was the only casualty of the shot block. And no one can ever say he’s not willing to pay a physical price to win a game.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.