On Sunday night, Philadelphia Flyers netminder Steve Mason went down with an injury during a TV timeout. It could very well have been the reaggravation of an earlier ailment, but it simply looks like the Philadelphia goaltender just had awful luck.
And strange injuries have been one of the big stories this season. Even when it’s not a strange injury, in some cities players are heading to the injured list at such a rate that it makes one wonder what’s in the water. So, in what has been an odd season for injuries, here are the 10 strangest:
10. Henrik Lundqvist takes a puck to the throat
Not only was Lundqvist’s injury a matter of terrible fate, it was also handled in an extremely odd fashion. Right before for the puck was about to strike Lundqvist in the mask, he had his cage accidentally lifted by the stick of teammate Ryan McDonagh. The puck then hit him squarely in the throat. King Henrik went down, but he got back up and finished the game.
Two nights later, on a Monday, he completed a 6-3 victory over the Florida Panthers, but by Wednesday he was day-to-day and by Thursday he was out for three to four weeks with a “vascular injury.” The injury was bizarre, but the management of Lundqvist – the Rangers’ franchise goaltender – was even more peculiar.
9. Skate to the groin sidelines Sidney Crosby
Crosby caught a skate to the groin and can consider him extremely lucky it was the heel of the skate, not the blade. The injury to the Penguins superstar occurred in a mid-January contest against the Montreal Canadiens.
Crosby gave a jolt to Canadiens winger Jiri Sekac along the boards and, as Sekac fell to the ground, his skate came up and clipped Crosby right in the cup, sending the Penguins pivot to the ice in a heap. Crosby remained in the game, but before the all-star festivities, the league was informed that Sid the Kid wouldn’t be taking part in the game or skills competition due to a lower-body injury. We can only hope it wasn’t related to the boot to the groin.
8. Argument leads to broken foot for Josh Harding
Harding’s mishap was a harbinger of things to come, as the Minnesota Wild netminder got himself on the injured list after he gave a swift kick to a wall following a reported argument with a teammate. The kick broke his foot and sidelined him for more than a month. For good measure, the Wild also suspended him because the incident occurred off ice. Go figure.
Harding returned from injury in November, but was sent to the AHL shortly after his return. The goaltender has been sidelined much of the season with complications resulting from his battle with Multiple Sclerosis. He hasn’t suited up for the Iowa Wild since Dec. 6.
7. Pascal Dupuis sidelined with blood clot in lungs
Dupuis’ injury was equal parts frightening and shocking. The press conference to announce the 35-year-old winger’s ailment came just two days after doctors had found the clots in Dupuis’ lungs. Not only was Dupuis going to be out of the lineup, he wouldn’t be able to participate with the team for at least six months.
The severity of the ailment currently has Dupuis’ career in question and it’s not yet known whether or not he’ll even return to practice. It would be an unceremonious way to end the career of one of the more popular Penguins’ players from this era.
6. Back injury gives Steve Mason a scare at practice
Yes, Mason finds himself on this list. No, it’s not for the injury during the TV timeout.
During a mid-December practice, Mason fell to the ice in agony without being touched by anyone. He had taken no shots, hadn’t been participating in a drill at the time, and the injury was a frightening scene by all accounts. And that’s what gets Mason’s injury so high on this list.
"I never experienced anything like this," Mason told Randy Miller of NJ.com. "I can't even describe the pain. It was something that you don't wish on anybody. You guys saw it. I could barely get up."
Mason missed four games, during which time he couldn’t do much, quipping that he made a good dent in his couch. Once he was back in action, he was no worse for wear.
5. Blue Jackets can’t stay healthy
What a season it has been for the Blue Jackets. Instead of one strange injury, their entire season has just been a steady stream of players hitting the shelf, one after the other. At no point this season has Columbus iced their optimal lineup, due in large part to Nathan Horton suffering through what could be a career ending back injury.
On top of Horton being out, the Blue Jackets have been forced to play without: Sergei Bobrovsky, Ryan Murray, James Wisniewski, Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu, Boone Jenner, Brian Gibbons, Cody Goloubef, Fedor Tyutin, Matt Calvert, Scott Hartnell, Jack Skille, Cam Atkinson and Jeremy Morin. The team has lost a total of 317 man games to injury, the most in the league by 40 games, as of Feb. 7.
Even when the Blue Jackets look like they’re about to get healthy, another player has hit the IR. It has been that kind of year in Ohio.
4. Tyler Toffoli out with mononucleosis
Everything was going so well for Tyler Toffoli up until January. And then it hit him: mononucleosis.
For six games, the Kings were without the young, dynamic winger after he was hit with a bout of mono. The initial worry for Toffoli was that he would be stricken with and sidelined by the illness for months, as the ailment can be unpredictable in how long it will last. Thankfully, just eight days after going on injured reserve, the Kings activated the 22-year-old.
3. Upper-body injury for Kyle Okposo is a detached retina
The Islanders announced Jan. 27 that Okposo would miss six to eight weeks with an upper-body injury. No further specification was given and, as is the case in situations such as Okposo’s, everyone was left to wonder. Could it be another shoulder injury? When did the injury occur? Did it happen during the Jan. 20 practice, the last time Okposo skated?
ESPN’s Katie Strang broke news of Okposo’s injury, a detached retina, Feb. 3, a week after it was announced he would be move to the injured reserve.
2. Corey Crawford falls at concert, misses time with foot injury
Aside from injuries to Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp, the Blackhawks have been pretty lucky when it comes to staying healthy this season. However, they couldn’t dodge all the bullets and that’s why goaltender Crawford finds himself at the penultimate spot on this list. Crawford went down Dec. 3 with a foot injury after he, “missed a step,” at a concert he was attending.
Crawford was playing some of the best hockey of his career before the injury and told reporters that he was extremely frustrated about the accident. When asked, Crawford refused to say whether or not alcohol played a factor in his injury, saying he would not talk about the details.
The Blackhawks netminder missed eight games.
1. A mumps outbreak runs wild throughout the NHL
How could a list about strange injuries not include the mumps outbreak? There may not have been a stranger leaguewide story in all of sports.
The mumps outbreak is believed to have begun somewhere in California, but over the course of two months, it ended up hitting the dressing rooms of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, and Pittsburgh Penguins. The hope now is that the whole outbreak has passed, but for weeks on end it seemed like a new player was diagnosed almost daily.
In total there were 21 confirmed cases, sidelining players like Crosby and Ryan Suter. There was also at least one scare in the AHL, as Hartford Wolfpack winger Joey Crabb and coach Ken Gernander were tested for the illness. The outbreak also struck Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta, who missed time after having a cancerous tumor removed from his thyroid and is now out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.
In a year of strange injuries, the mumps reigns supreme. What an odd season 2014-15 has been.