Top 10 Hockey Tough Guys and Their Baseball Counterparts
10: Ian Laperriere, Philadelphia Flyers:During the first period of a game versus the Buffalo Sabres, Laperriere stopped a wicked slap shot with his mouth and lost seven teeth in the process. An injury this gruesome should require at least a few weeks eating through a straw and drooling all over yourself. Not for a hockey player. Laperriere sat out the second period while he received 100 stitches. He then returned to the ice for the third period and didn’t miss a game all season.
This led to what may be one of the greatest headlines in Philadelphia sports history: “Puck Out Indefinitely After Taking a Laperriere to the Face”
Meanwhile, in Baseball ...In 2004 Sammy Sosa spent 15 days on the disabled list with back spasms caused by sneezing too hard.
9: Martin St Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning:During game one of the 2011 Eastern Conference playoffs vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, the diminutive Lightning winger got two teeth knocked out by a high stick. Of course, he finished the game and underwent a double root canal the next day.
In the next series against the Washington Capitals, he took two more shots to the mouth and the team's dentists had to cement three of his teeth back in. After each game he’d spend 40 minutes in the trainer’s room draining the pus and trying to re-stabilize his teeth so he could continue in the series.
Meanwhile, in Baseball ...Outfielder Kevin Mitchell and donuts were close friends. One night, in a fit of desperate craving, Mitchell microwaved a frozen donut just a little too long. The donut hardened and as he chomped down he broke his tooth. The broken tooth led to a root canal and a trip to the disabled list for two weeks of rest, relaxation and properly defrosted donuts.
8: Eddie Shore, Boston BruinsBack in 1925 during practice (when practice wasn’t inspired by Allen Iverson) Shore’s ear was nearly ripped off during a confrontation with teammate Billy Coutu. Shore visited several doctors who all told him that the ear would have to be amputated. After an exhaustive search, Shore found one doctor who was willing to try sewing it back on. And near as I can tell from a Google image search, the ear stayed put.
Shore, the original tough guy hockey player, refused anesthetics, used a mirror to watch the good doctor work his magic and then played in the next game.
Meanwhile, in Baseball ...Spending a lot of time in the sun while wearing a baseball hat can lead to an awkward tan line. You know, the one where your chin, nose and cheeks are a perfect golden brown but your forehead stays as white as your bottom. This must have really annoyed Marty Cordova because the former Baltimore Orioles outfielder was known to spend a lot of his down-time in a tanning bed. During one visit, the 1995 Rookie of the Year got a little too relaxed, fell asleep and the resulting tanning bed burns forced him to miss a few games.
7: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay LightningDuring game seven of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, the 21-year-old Stamkos took a slapshot to the face that badly broke his nose and left a lot of blood on the ice. But this was game seven. A winner-take-all for a trip to the Stanley Cup finals and Stamkos wasn’t about to spend the rest of the game in the locker room.
Like Humpty Dumpty before him, the Lightning training staff worked feverishly to put the young center back together again. Stamkos returned to the ice only five minutes later with a nose packed with cotton, some temporary stitches and a full face cage.
Meanwhile, in Baseball ...Diamondbacks pitcher Brian Anderson ended up losing the feeling in his pitching arm after a 20-minute cab ride to shop on Rodeo Drive. Anderson blamed the numbness in his elbow from laying his pitching arm across the top of the backseat. Quite possibly the first time a professional athlete was injured by the backseat of a cab.
6: Jeremy Roenick, Phoenix Coyotes:Roenick was once one of the scrappiest players in the NHL and he had his share of enemies around the league. One of those enemies was 6’5” 240 lbs Dallas Stars defenseman Darian Hatcher. Hatcher lined up Roenick behind the net one game and gave the winger a crushing elbow to the face and head that broke his jaw in multiple places. Hatcher was immediately ejected. Roenick paused, skated to the bench, spit out some blood and stuck his fingers into his mouth to adjust the shattered remnants of his jaw. He took his next shift.
Meanwhile, in Baseball ...During a post-game interview, Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan tore the meniscus in his left knee while smashing a shaving cream pie into the face of teammate Wes Helms. Coghlan missed six weeks after surgery.
5: Paul Kariya, Anaheim Mighty DucksDuring game six of the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs, New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens lined up Kariya in the open ice and leveled the Ducks captain and star player. Kariya was knocked out cold and lay motionless on the ice. After several seconds Kariya regained consciousness and teammates helped him off the ice and into the locker room.
It was assumed that Kariya would be out for the remainder of the series, but just 11 minutes later Kariya skated back out onto the ice. Not only did he return to play, he also scored a goal to lead the Ducks to victory and force a game seven.
Meanwhile, in Baseball ...Braves outfielder Terry Harper separated his shoulder while waving a teammate home and subsequently high-fiving him. There is no excuse for this, unless the teammate rounding third was Brock Lesnar.
4: Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh PenguinsWhile on pace to break Wayne Gretzky’s single season scoring record, the Penguins superstar announced that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and would have to undergo radiation treatment for at least two months. Lemieux’s life and career were both threatened.
On the last day of his radiation treatment, Lemieux left a Pittsburgh hospital headed for the airport and flew directly to Philadelphia for a game THAT NIGHT. In his first game back he scored a goal and an assist and even got a standing ovation from the Philadelphia fans; fans who are best known for their accuracy throwing batteries at the opposition, not giving applause.
Despite missing two months of action, Lemieux captured the scoring title with 160 points on the year. To put that in perspective, Daniel Sedin led the league in 2011 with 106 points.
Meanwhile, in Baseball ...Cincinnati Reds Pitcher Steve Foster injured his shoulder knocking over milk bottles during a segment with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show”.
3: Bobby Baun, Toronto Maple LeafsIn the 1964 Stanley Cup finals against the Detroit Red Wings, the Maple Leafs blue liner blocked a Gordie Howe shot with his ankle and fell to the ice in pain. Baun had to be carried off the ice with a stretcher and suspected the ankle was broken. In true hockey player style, Baun refused x-rays and instead opted for a "tight tape job". The game went into overtime and it was Baun who scored the game-winner forcing a game seven.
Still refusing to have the ankle x-rayed for fear the team wouldn’t allow him to play, Baun popped some painkillers and headed to the ice for game seven. He didn’t miss a shift and the Leafs cruised to a 4-0 victory. Afterward Baun finally had that x-ray which revealed a badly broken ankle.
Meanwhile, in Baseball ...Milwaukee Brewers knuckleballer Steve Sparks attended a motivational speaking seminar where the host ripped phone books in half! The session worked, Sparks was so fired up he tried to do the stunt himself…and dislocated his shoulder.
2: Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Montreal CanadiensIn game seven of the Stanley Cup semifinals between the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins, Richard was upended and landed on the ice head-first. These were the days before helmets, and Richard lay motionless surrounded by a growing pool of blood. After regaining consciousness he was helped off the ice by teammates and into the locker room.
To the surprise of everyone in the arena, Richard came back to the bench in the third period with a bandage on his forehead and a jersey still soaked in his own blood. He bounded onto the ice, blood still tricking down his face, and took the puck coast-to-coast through the entire Bruins team to score the winning goal. Many still refer to it as “the greatest goal in the history of the game”.
Meanwhile, in Baseball ...Enigmatic Giants third baseman Chris Brown once asked out of the lineup because of a strained eyelid that made it difficult to blink. When asked the cause of his injury, he informed the skipper that “he slept on it wrong.”
1: Clint Malarchuk, Buffalo SabresOne of the most gruesome injuries ever sustained in professional sports was back in 1989 when Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk was struck in the throat by another skate. The skate blade sliced open his interior carotid artery and a scene from a Horror movie played out before the fans eyes. Malarchuk rose on his own power and skated toward the nearest door off the ice.
It's odd to say that Malarchuk had luck on his side, but he did. The closest door led to the on-site emergency room where the medical staff was able to stabilize the bleeding enough for transport to a local hospital. Three hundred stitches later the wound was closed and Malarchuk was saved.
What makes this the ultimate Hockey player story? A mere four days later Malarchuk was back on the ice for practice, and a week after that he started in goal against the Quebec Nordiques.