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Top 15 Worst Injuries In NHL History

Hockey is a dangerous game. You have athletes flying around hitting each other with knives attached to their feet. Injuries are inevitable. Every season is filled with injuries and the loss of a key player or conversely, the return of a key player at an opportune time can make the difference between winning and losing.

Every sport has its fair share of injuries, but the ability to come back from these injuries is part of the reason we love hockey players. We throw out words like "character", "leadership", and "determination" to describe the toughness of our players and when a hockey player plays hurt, you can be sure that somewhere on the internet you can find someone shouting about how hockey players are tougher than other athletes. Playing with a broken ankle or separated shoulder can help even the most mediocre of players reach legendary status, while sitting out with an injury can sometimes draw criticism.

The truth of the matter is, playing through a serious injury isn't always the best idea. In fact sometimes it's downright stupid. In recent years, with the advancement of research on brain injuries, we've become more sensitive about letting players play after taking a shot to the head. When Colby Armstrong tried to play through a concussion as a member of the Maple Leafs he was lambasted for it. A few years earlier he would've drawn praise for such an act. Still, if it isn't a brain injury, we expect our hockey players to keep playing and as long as they have something to gain - i.e. a Stanley Cup or a new contract - many players will continue to take that risk.

At the end of the day, hockey players are only human and can't be expected to be invincible. We always expect them to suck it up and get back on the ice, but sometimes that's just impossible.

via mapleleafs.nhl.com

"The King" may have broken the NHL's European barrier, but the Hall of Fame defenseman had his face broken open in a 1986 game against the Detroit Red Wings. Salming was lying in front of the goal, when Gerard Gallant accidentally stepped on his face. Salming required facial surgery and an estimated 250 stitches to close the gash, although the exact number of stitches is unknown.

via windsorstar.com

In a March 8, 2011 game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, Zdeno Chara threw a check on Max Pacioretty that forced him to collide face first with the stanchion at the end of the Bruins bench. Pacioretty was knocked unconscious and suffered a severe concussion along with a fractured vertebrae. He was sidelined for the remainder of the 2010-11 season.

via windsorstar.com

In a December 27, 1980 game Hartford Whalers defenseman Mark Howe slid into his own net, lifting the goal post with his skates and causing the metal spike that held the post in place to impale him, just missing his spinal column. Howe lost three and half pints of blood and within six weeks of the injury had dropped from 192 to 176 pounds. Despite this, Howe returned to the Whalers' lineup, but struggled for the remainder of the season.

via wild.nhl.com

Trying to beat San Jose Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell to the puck on an icing play in a March 2008 game, Minnesota Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster was checked into the boards cracking his kneecap and shattering his left femur into three pieces. Foster required nine hours of surgery and a rod, screws, and wires in his leg to fix the injury.

via proicehockey.about.com

After a 1926 trade saw Billy Coutu go from the Montreal Canadiens to the Boston Bruins, his first practice with the Bruins resulted in a fight with teammate Eddie Shore. Shore and Coutu ran at each other several times and during the altercation Shore's ear was nearly ripped off. After refusing several doctors' insistence that his ear be amputated, Shore found a doctor willing to sew it back on and watched, without anesthetic, holding a mirror as the ear was put back into place.

via tvasports.ca

During a January 29, 2000 game between the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers, winger Trent McCleary went down to block a Chris Therien slapshot and took a puck to the throat suffering a fractured larynx and a collapsed lung. McCleary was rushed to the hospital where doctors performed an emergency tracheotomy, saving his life. McCleary required several surgeries in order to be able to speak again.

AP Photo/J. Pat Carter

In a February 10, 2008 game between the Florida Panthers and the Buffalo Sabres, Olli Jokinen was knocked down by Clarke MacArthur and as he fell to the ice his skate came up and cut teammate Richard Zednik's throat cutting his carotid artery and just missing his jugular vein. Zednik was rushed to the hospital and required an hour of surgery to reconnect the artery.

via photobucket.com

Gordie Howe played pro hockey until the age of 52, but his storybook career was almost ended 30 years earlier. In a 1950 playoff game between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs Howe attempted to check Ted Kennedy and crashed head first into the boards, fracturing his skull and knocking him unconscious. Howe's family feared for his life as surgery was performed to relieve pressure on his brain.

2 Ace Bailey's career ends

via wikimedia.org

1 Ted Green left paralyzed

via businessinsider.com

In a 1969 exhibition game enforcer Ted Green of the Boston Bruins was involved in a fight with the St. Louis Blues' Wayne Maki. The two players began swinging their sticks and Maki struck Green in the head. Green suffered a fractured skull and was left paralyzed with little hope of ever resuming his NHL career.

via imgur.com

In the first period of a January 28, 1937 game between the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Black Hawks, Habs legend Howie Morenz lost his balance, fell to the ice, and crashed leg first into the boards, catching his left skate in the siding. Pursuing defender Earl Seibert couldn't stop and landed on Morenz. The result was a fractured leg in four places and the end of Morenz's illustrious career.

via nydailynews.com

March 11, 2000 while playing for the Maple Leafs in the battle of Ontario, Berard took a stick to the right eye from the Senators' Marian Hossa. Berard dropped immediately and a pool of blood spilled to the ice. Not only was Berard's  career in jeopardy, but there was fear that he might lose his eye. He suffered a fractured orbital bone, cut cornea, and detached retina.

via stevemoorefoundation.org

I think we all remember the night Steve Moore's career was ended 8:41 into the third period of a 9-2 Colorado Avalanche victory over the Vancouver Canucks on February 16, 2004. Allegedly looking for retribution for a hit on Canuck's captain Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi grabbed Moore from behind, sucker punched him, and drove him into the ice. Two more players jumped on top and after laying motionless on the ice for ten minutes, Steve Moore was stretchered off the ice. Moore suffered three broken vertebrae and a concussion and never played another game.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Harry Scull Jr.

Nineteen years before Zednik had his throat slashed, on March 22, 1989  while playing net for the Buffalo Sabres, Clint Malarchuk took a skate to the throat from the St. Louis Blues' Steve Tuttle. Tuttle and Uwe Krupp had gotten tangled up in front of the net and fell on top of the goaltender. Tuttle's skate cut Malarchuk's jugular vein and severed his carotid artery. Sabres trainer Jim Pizzutelli rushed to Malarchuk's aid and put pressure on his neck to stabilize the injury and save his life. After being rushed to the hospital for surgery, Malarchuk remarkably returned to the ice just 10 days later.

via startribune.com

On January 15, 1968 as a member of the Minnesota North Stars, Bill Masterton took a hit from Oakland Seals defensemen Larry Cahan and Ron Harris and fell backwards landing on his head and knocking him unconscious. Masterton allegedly regained consciousness long enough to mutter the words, "Never again, never again" before again losing consciousness. He succumbed to his injuries 30 hours after the hit and is the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result from on ice injuries.

Masterton has had his name immortalized by the NHL with a trophy baring his name given out annually for "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey".

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Top 15 Worst Injuries In NHL History