Midway through the first period on Tuesday night at PNC Arena, Andrej Sekera
lost the puck in the offensive zone and hustled back down the ice, full speed ahead, attempting to break up the ensuing odd-man rush.
Then, he tripped over Cam Ward’s outstretched pad, the puck already in the back of the net. He went airborne at top speed, headfirst into the end boards.
It was a brutal and violent collision, and it was hard not to fear the worst as Sekera was helped off the ice by his teammates.
But somehow, someway, Sekera was back on the ice skating with the Hurricanes on Thursday morning, less than 48 hours after the frightening incident.
“Trust me, I have no idea,” he said when asked how he escaped serious injury. “Somebody up there must like me a lot.”
“I looked at it once and don’t want to look at it again ever,” head coach Bill Peters said on Wednesday. “I’m glad he didn't break his neck.”
Though Sekera won’t play in New York on Thursday, he could get back into the lineup as early as Tuesday night in Winnipeg.
“Nothing is broken, no ligament damage,” he said. “I’m very happy and fortunate to only have a couple bruises and bangs – nothing serious.”
“He’s a tough guy, boy oh boy. As tough as they come,” Peters said. “But we’ve got to be smart about this.”
Looking back on the play, Sekera is as surprised as anyone but undoubtedly thankful to come out of it virtually unscathed.
“It felt like I was in the air for a good 15 seconds,” he said. “Thank God nothing really serious happened.
“Probably the collision of my life right there.”
Peters said after Tuesday’s game that the Canes were due for a break in the injury department. All things considered, they certainly got one here, and they shouldn’t be without one of their top two defensemen for very long.
“Injuries come with this sport,” Sekera said. “You just got to keep battling through it.”