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NHL Injury Analysis: A Jaw-Dropping Experience

Hannah Rawls

Hannah is from St. Petersburg, FL. She graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University. She's a certified athletic trainer and currently works for a NCAA D2 college in Florida. She has worked with NAIA and NCAA football, rugby, and lacrosse and ACHA ice hockey as an athletic trainer.

We're officially entering the last month of the shortened season. Four more weeks of broken bones, pulled groins, and moans from Calgary fans about how much they'll miss Jarome Iginla. It's been a short season, but the action we've seen over the past 2.5 months hasn't been short on passion (or injuries).

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh) is one of the faces of the NHL (yeah, I know saying that may be dangerous to his ego) but as of Saturday night that innocent boy-wonder smile we've all come to know will be missing a few teeth. Crosby took a puck right to the mouth during his first shift against the Islanders. After going down on the ice, Crosby was taken to the hospital where surgery was performed to have his broken jaw repaired. As of right now the team is stating that there are no signs of a concussion, and let's all hope that remains true because with Crosby's history of concussion-like symptoms, who knows when we would see him again? The repair to Crosby's jaw was reportedly done with screws and plates (rather than the traditional jaw-wired-shut approach. This particular repair allows the muscles in the face to be used and maintained over the course of the healing process, if he had his jaw repaired traditionally he wouldn't be able to open his mouth for 6 weeks (liquid burgers, yum!). As of right now the Penguins have Crosby listed as "out indefinitely", but with this kind of surgical repair it should be about six weeks before Crosby is cleared for action once again. I'm not one to be pessimistic (ok maybe I am), but I don't see Crosby returning before the end of the season, and it's a long shot to think he would return during a post-season run, however, crazier things have happened.

Defenseman Kris Letang of Pittsburgh was fresh off the IR on the 27th (after missing 3 games) but apparently couldn't stay away for long. In his first game back for the Penguins, Letang took a shot off his foot and now reportedly has a broken toe. I know this doesn't sound like much, especially in the NHL, but seriously have you ever broken your toe and then gone out to play hockey? No? I didn't think so. Letang should only be out for about 7-10 days (or more, you never know he does seem to like his name on the list), and should have no lingering issues with this injury.

The Flyers should just invest in a personal bubble for defenseman Andrej Meszaros. Only two weeks after returning from his shoulder dislocation injury (January 24th), he came out of a game last week in visible pain in his upper body. Now, Meszaros will be undergoing surgery this week to repair a torn rotator cuff in the same shoulder he just finished rehabbing and will be out for the remainder of the season. After Meszaros goes under the knife he will be expected to complete a rigorous rehabilitation plan. Within 4-6 months after surgery he should have his full range of motion and at least adequate strength back in his shoulder. Most NHLers complete the rehab for a rotator cuff repair and far surpass any normal human beings' abilities in that time, so Meszaros should have no issues returning for training camp come September (hopefully he's over his accident-prone year by then.)  A few months back I made an educated guess about the issue within Meszaros' shoulder, and as much as I hate to see a season end due to an injury, I love to be right!

Just two weeks after taking a puck to his face and fracturing his cheekbone, defenseman Kyle Quincey is likely to start skating this week. His projected timeline for return is now a mere two weeks away. Now, Quincey's fractured zygomatic bone did not require the surgery that Crosby's jaw did, but his quick turn-around time should at least spark some positive thoughts over there in Pittsburgh. There's a small chance that Quincey is on anyone's fantasy radar, but I like to throw up some good news to the broken hearted sometimes.