-- Devante Smith-Pelly
was asked on Tuesday if he now regrets going down to block the haymaker off the stick Finland's Teemu Pulkkinen
in the second period of an eventual 8-1 victory at Rexall Place in Team Canada's opener of the 2012 World Junior Championship.
As you might expect, he doesn't. In fact, he'd do it again if he could turn back the clock.
"I don't regret it," Smith-Pelly, who was aided by crutches and a walking boot on his left foot, told the media. "You never know what could have happened on that shot. The game was close at that point. Who knows what would have happened if it went in. I don't regret blocking it at all. That's a part of my game and injuries happen."
To his credit, even after the puck broke the bone in his left foot, he made an attempt to stay on the ice. The pain, however, was just too excruciating.
"The puck came out to the point and I came across and turned my foot and tried to get in front of it," Smith-Pelly said. "It was a really hard shot and as soon as it hit me, I knew right away something was wrong."
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Canada coach Don Hay wasn't surprised when he heard Smith-Pelly hobbled off the ice with no regrets after taking one for the team.
"If you don't block that shot, it may cost you a gold medal," Hay said. "I don't think you can decide when you're going to do it, it just has to come naturally. It's a good habit you have to get into and those good habits will really pay off when the game is on the line and in pressure situations. We'll continue to ask our guys to block shots."
The Anaheim Ducks
, who loaned Smith-Pelly to Team Canada, said their 2010 second-round (No. 42) draft pick will be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks.
U.S. coach Dean Blais knows you can't replace a player like Smith-Pelly.
"It's a huge loss for the grit and leadership he provided … he finishes his checks and blocks shots in the games I've seen," Blais told NHL.com. "He's the kind of guy who does everything for the team."
While the loss of the hard-hitting Smith-Pelly is tough, Hay remains certain his team will persevere. During the club's practice on Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday's game against Czech Republic, Hay had Brett Connolly
filling in for Smith-Pelly on a line with Quinton Howden
and Freddie Hamilton
Meanwhile, Tanner Pearson was with Michael Bournival
and Boone Jenner
"I think Boone Jenner
really stepped up his physical game [in Smith-Pelly's absence]," Hay said. "Brett Connolly
will have to step up to be a physical player. Really, everyone has to step up and play the body more, 'Devo' was a guy who, when he hit somebody, it was usually a big hit. We might not get the big hits he supplied, but we should get more guys contributing by finishing their checks."
Smith-Pelly was very appreciative of all the get-well wishes he received on Tuesday. He'll remain with the team for the duration of the tournament, acting as a cheerleader and providing as much support as possible.
"It's tough because he was one of our key players and Anaheim loaned him, so that was big for our team," Canada forward Ryan Strome
told NHL.com. "It's a tough blow, but he talked and the coaches talked to us, and we have to march on. It happens. Everyone felt bad for him, but Devante reassured us that if there's anything we could do for him, it would be to play extra hard and not make any excuses."
Smith-Pelly said Anaheim's Nick Bonino
, Cam Fowler
and Bobby Ryan
each reached out to him after he suffered his injury.
"I think [the Anaheim Ducks
organization] accepted what happened," Smith-Pelly said. "It was a blocked shot … it wasn't a concussion or something like that. It was a hockey play.
"The fact I'm missing the rest of the tourney is tough. I obviously wanted to do this for a while and I only had one more chance to play. To get in only a period and a half is a bit frustrating."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale