Monday’s practice began just like any other practice for Brandon Saad.
That is, until an errant puck deflected up and into his mouth, denting multiple teeth backward and causing quite the problem.
Saad, 22, had been fairly fortunate in his hockey career until this week. In a sport with a history full of gap-toothed smiles and regular on-ice chiclet clean-ups, Saad had never lost a tooth or anything of the sort.
His practice was cut short Monday, and then, it was off to the dentist where even fun more awaited him.
Saad spent four hours in a dentist’s chair on Tuesday, going through not one, not two, not three…but four root canals.
Yes. Four (!) root canals.
And on Thursday, Saad was back on the ice with line mates Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno, almost as if everything had been business as usual – aside from the new full-face protection visor he sported during practice. Don’t think, though, that it wasn’t a painful (literally and figuratively) two days of recovery, with Saad taking painkillers just to get to sleep and dealing with general discomfort.
“It could be worse, but I felt pretty good (Thursday) out on the ice,” Saad said. “I’m getting better every day.”
“You talk with him after (the injury), and he was very nonchalant about it, like nothing happened,” added coach Todd Richards. “It’s good to have him back out on the ice and being part of the team.”
Saad is quite a big part of the team, and figures to be a fixture on the left side of the No. 1 line when the regular season begins. To this point in camp, all of his work with Johansen and Foligno has been conducted in practice, beginning Friday morning and continuing through Sunday afternoon.
Because of the injury and subsequent dental work, Saad has yet to suit up in an exhibition game, but that drought appears to be coming to an end soon.
Richards wouldn’t say definitively whether Saad will play in the Blue Jackets’ next preseason game – Saturday against the Penguins in his hometown of Pittsburgh (4 p.m. ET, aired live on NHL Network) – but if all goes well, Saad is targeting the weekend for long-awaited game action in his new sweater.
“It’s all really about how I feel, and I felt good in practice,” Saad said. “It’s a little different with the face protection, but for the most part, it felt pretty good.”
As for getting accustomed to his line mates’ patterns and tendencies on the ice, Saad isn’t too concerned about missing time because he’s playing with two high-level players that he believes complement his game well.
“Good players tend to gel fairly quickly,” Saad said. “In practice, we’ve been feeling pretty good, and following the game the other night, they had some success (together). They’re obviously excited and ready to go.
“Whoever I play with, there’s a lot of skilled guys here. A lot of (the work so far) has been systems and learning how the team plays, but it’ll be better when we get in a game together.”