|A gash under Pronger's lip required some of the estimated 70 stitches he received. |
Despite having two visible stitched cuts on his face and speaking through a mouth he couldn’t open all the way, Ducks captain Chris Pronger was in relatively good spirits as he spoke for the first time following jaw surgery four days ago.
Pronger participated in the Ducks’ morning skate with a clear face shield attached to his helmet, but indicated that he’ll be out of action for at least a week.
Pronger underwent a 2 1/2-hour procedure to repair a small fracture in his jaw. He was injured during Sunday night’s 6-3 victory over Chicago, when he was hit by the stick blade of Chicago forward Patrick Sharp, on the follow-through of a Sharp shot that resulted in a second-period goal.
Following the surgery, Pronger was left with stitches underneath his lip where the stick hit him, and more on the underside of his chin where surgeons had to go through to insert a plate in his jaw. He estimated the stitch count to be “around 70.”
“I’m all right,” Pronger said through slightly clenched teeth. “I’m not really eating a whole lot. A lot of shakes and stuff. I didn’t want to eat right away because my throat was sore from the tube. Because of my cut, they had to go through my nose, so everything was sore. It was a little more extensive than they originally thought. It wasn’t the ideal day I would have liked on a nice Monday, a nice day off for a change. It wasn’t the day off I was hoping for.”
Pronger said his absence could be “a week to six weeks,” but was clearly joking. “That’s what I’m saying: It’s a week to six weeks with a lower body contusion,” he said with a laugh, also uttering his now-familiar line, "I'm day to day with hurt feelings." However, he did add with a straight face, “I’d rather not be more specific because I really don’t know.”
Upon getting hit by Sharp’s stick, Pronger immediately fell to the ice, his gloves flying off his hands. He soon got up and hurriedly skated off the ice, clutching his mouth.
“I knew something was wrong right away,” he recalled. “It’s like anything else. When you get hit and you hurt your knee or your shoulder, you know. You get hit that hard in the jaw and you can feel the blood gushing out. You grab your mouth and you’re like, How come I can feel my teeth? That’s not good. You know immediately something’s wrong. You know it’s gonna leave a mark.”
Pronger said that surprisingly the injury “wasn’t that painful” when it first occurred. “It broke, so it kind of went numb right away,” he said. “It was more of having three fingers in my mouth, through my lips and trying to skate off. I could feel my teeth loose and I had my fingers in my lip, making sure nothing fell out and controlling the blood. You don’t want to scare the fans. I know some of them like blood, but probably not as much as was coming out of that thing.”
|Pronger wore a face shield during the Ducks' morning skate. |
Pronger surprisingly did not lose any teeth, though “some are broken and loose. They probably could have pulled out a couple. But they chose to leave them in place and see if they stiffen up.”
He acknowledged that players get hit on follow-throughs on shots “about 10 times a game. A guy is following through and might hit a guy in the chest or the helmet or just miss a guy. I was pulling out of the way as I saw it coming, but it was too close. But things like that happen all the time.”
When a reporter said to Pronger, “So, now hard feelings?” Pronger responded with a smile, “Oh, I didn’t say that. I guess stuff happens. I know that there have been times I’ve hit the odd guy in the head. It’s the old adage: What goes around comes around. It all plays out in the end.”
There was no penalty on the play, since the NHL rulebook states that high sticking can’t be called in the action of a shot. “It’s subsection A-dash-B, one-point-two or something like that,” Pronger laughed. “If you’re taking a slap shot and I’m coming at you and you’re following through, you can’t stop swinging. You’ve got to shoot and score, so there’s leeway when you have the puck. So, it’s not a penalty, according to the rulebook.”
Pronger wore the face guard throughout the morning skate, and said he’ll probably have to continue wearing it “for awhile, I would assume. I’m not ruling anything out at this point.” It’s the first time he’s worn that type of equipment since he was a teenager, when it was required in his junior leagues growing up.
“It’s going to be an adjustment period to kind of figure out where I can see best and where I can see the puck,” he said. “It kind of changes your peripheral vision. Now I have to turn my head a bit to look to the side. It’s probably more about your vision than anything.”
Pronger indicated he’s not the only one of his family to sport a nice set of stitches. One of his sons required them after falling on the stairs at home. “So he got to compare his stitches to mine,” Pronger said. “He enjoyed that. He and I are tight right now. He got his stitches first, and I wanted to show him that it wasn’t that painful.”
Pronger was lauded for keeping his sense of humor through the ordeal.
“Hey,” he said, “You’ve got to make light of a situation like this."