Scott Gomez hasn't seen the replay of Richard Zednik's gruesome neck injury - caused when he was struck by the skate blade of Florida Panthers teammate Olli Jokinen last week - and can't even bring himself to talk about it.
The New York Rangers forward shivered when asked about it and whether he and fellow players might consider wearing neck guards to protect themselves from such horrific injuries, even though they rarely occur at the NHL level.
"I can't even watch it," Gomez said. "It's kind of like the unwritten rule, I just don't want to talk about it. I'm just glad the guy is all right.
"It's like when you get beaned by a pitcher. It's something you just don't want to talk about."
Zednik spent the week in a Buffalo hospital after the injury Sunday night in a game against the Sabres. It took a perfect storm of events leading up to the point when Zednik was struck and nearly had his carotid artery severed.
The bottom line is Zednik was lucky, his doctors said, because as serious and bloody as the injury was it could have been fatal. In youth leagues, players are required to wear neck guards because they aren't as skilled with their skates and are at a greater risk than those in the NHL.
"It happens so rarely, I still don't think it's a big concern for us players," Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "I've never worn it. I think comfort is a big thing."
Alfredsson didn't think there would be a stigma attached to a player wearing such protection, but one could be attached to it just as it once was to goalie masks, and helmets and visors.
Rangers coach Tom Renney doesn't expect players to don neck protection that is required in Canadian junior leagues.
"My guess, no. The argument will be comfort, but there is stigma there, too. There is no question about it," Renney said. "It's a real concern, though. These are sharp blades and it's a game played at high speed."
SIMON SKATES: Chris Simon could soon be returning to the New York Islanders as his 30-game ban for skate-stomping is nearing an end.
Simon hasn't played since Dec. 15 when he slew-footed Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu to the ice, then stepped on the back of his leg with his skate blade. That earned the oft-punished Simon a record ban from the NHL that is due to expire this week.
The rugged forward rejoined the team for practice on Wednesday for the first time since the incident, and is eligible to play Thursday when the Islanders face Tampa Bay at home.
Simon has been suspended seven times by the NHL, including a 25-game ban that carried into the first five games of this season for his two-handed stick-swinging attack against the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg last March.
"I've learned from my mistakes and I'm trying to look to being ready and being the best that I can when I come back," Simon said. "I know what I did was wrong, and the league did what they thought they had to do for me to realize that they're not going to accept those type of actions.
"I wish I would've learned the first time, but I've got to focus on being the best I can be and to help my team to do whatever it takes to win and to move forward, but to learn from the past."
Simon received behavioral counseling in the program run jointly by the NHL and the players' association, and said he benefited from it.
"Everything was helpful. I did what I had to do, and I took it in a positive way, and everything I did has helped me," Simon said. "From the time I got to spend away, I've learned a lot, and enjoyed a lot of the time at home. But what I love the most is playing hockey.
"When that gets taken away, it makes you realize ... when you're gone for that long it really puts the emphasis on how much you do love the game."
SPLIT SENS: Just when the high-powered line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson got back together, Ottawa Senators coach John Paddock split the trio up.
In the fourth game after Heatley's 11-game absence due to a shoulder injury, Paddock moved captain Alfredsson off the line that clicked for 15 points in a 6-1 win over Montreal on Saturday.
Spezza had three goals and three assists, Heatley had a goal and three assists, and Alfredsson had two goals and three assists. All three players were a plus-4 that night but went pointless Tuesday in a 5-1 home loss to Buffalo, when Cory Stillman made his Senators debut after being acquired from Carolina.
Alfredsson played on a line with Mike Fisher and Stillman on Wednesday during a 3-2 overtime loss at New Jersey. Dean McAmmond moved up to take Alfredsson's spot alongside Heatley and Spezza.
"I told the team before that guys just can't sit around and wait for the three that have done a lot of the scoring all year to do it," Paddock said. "They can't expect that 'The Big Three' can go out and score like they did against Montreal.
"It doesn't work that way. It seems to me we're still looking for that right combination to help us produce."
Alfredsson didn't know if the change was temporary.
"I have no idea," he said with a laugh. "We didn't have a good game, any of us, against Buffalo, so you switch it up I guess. You have to ask him."
The move might have been a simple shake-up to get his team's attention, or Paddock could be looking to get Stillman comfortable and on his game as quickly as possible.
"He's such a smart player," Alfredsson said. "He'll fit in pretty much anywhere he goes."
HURTING-CANES: The Carolina Hurricanes already pulled off the biggest trade of the NHL's dealing season, but now with captain Rod Brind'Amour lost to a knee injury general manager Jim Rutherford might have to burn up the phone lines again.
Early this week, the Hurricanes traded forward Cory Stillman and defenseman Mike Commodore to the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators for defenseman Joe Corvo and forward Patrick Eaves.
Just three days later, Brind'Amour tore a knee ligament and was expected to be sidelined up to six months following surgery. Carolina entered the weekend on top of the Southeast Division, yet stood only six points ahead of last place Tampa Bay.
Replacing Brind'Amour won't be easy before the NHL trade deadline of Feb. 26. Any price tag for a deal will surely be steep.
Brind'Amour provides so much to the Hurricanes on the ice as the best faceoff man in the league, and is the heart and soul of the franchise in the locker room, too, as the longtime captain. He is also the team's second-leading scorer with 51 points.
One potential name to watch is Mats Sundin, the Maple Leafs captain since the 1997-98 season who has been rumored to be on the block if he will waive his no-trade clause.
Sundin, slated to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, leads Toronto with 24 goals and 59 points and is second in the NHL to Brind'Amour in faceoff wins.
Rutherford got lucky two years ago when he made an early strike to acquire Doug Weight several weeks before the trade deadline. The deal was good at the time and looked even better when Erik Cole sustained an injury that kept him out until the final games of the Stanley Cup finals, a series Carolina won.
SATISFIED SABRE: Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano surely misses former co-captains Chris Drury and Danny Briere, who both left the club last summer as free agents, but that doesn't mean he is disappointed with this year's team.
The Sabres are young and talented instead of experience-laden, and are no longer a major threat to win the Stanley Cup. That is OK with Golisano.
"I don't know what the analogy is, but you can't have it that way every year," Golisano said, referring to the Sabres' struggles to make the playoffs after being eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals the two previous seasons.
"Do I think we would like to have a better record this year? Sure I would," he added. "The fact of the matter is, this team is young and it's doing very well as far as I'm concerned. ... With the great potential this team has, we think they're going to be a stalwart in the league for a long time."
Golisano said the Sabres will "do what's physically possible" to re-sign two-time All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell, who is in the final year of his contract. But he noted the team wouldn't go "beyond certain limits" to do so.
Drury and Briere both signed lucrative deals with Atlantic Division teams. He defended the decision not to re-sign them by arguing that keeping both stars would have severely limited the Sabres from fitting other key players under the salary cap.
"I don't know if that would've served us well," Golisano said. "With the benefit of hindsight, I think we did the best that we could actually do. Everybody's making a big deal of it, like we arbitrarily decided that we weren't going to take these players. That's all wrong. We wanted to keep both of them."
AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y., contributed to this report.