On first glance at the news, as it was breaking, that Lightning forward Martin St. Louis had been injured in practice, one likely would shrug.
"It's Marty," you'd think. Marty, who overcomes just about every ailment to play (and contribute) on a regular basis. Even if it was a puck to the face, as we found out as details came in this morning, you'd expect Marty to shrug it off and still lace'em up tonight. That's just how he rolls. The dynamo-that-makes-the-Lightning-go endures and excels despite the pain.
Perhaps we, as fans, take that for granted? The fact the 36-year-old St. Louis endures pain to such a degree, we tend to write off an ambiguous injury report as just another class at the School of Hard Knocks (where St. Louis is a tenured professor). It just seems as if we brush off the idea Marty is (dare I say it) human.
But St. Louis' iron-man streak likely ends tonight at 499 games-played after taking a puck to the eye during practice this morning in New York City. A puck to the eye... A puck to the eye! That type of injury helped expedite the end of GM Steve Yzerman's playing career. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund has overcome such an injury in the past when he played in Vancouver...
But it's a puck to the eye, ladies and gentlemen. It's ended more playing careers than you know. Forget about the streak for a minute and worry about the man.
In light of Captain Vincent Lecavalier being nicked in the eye by a high stick, and on the heels of the Vancouver Canucks Manny Malhotra's grizzly eye injury, GM Steve Yzerman made a request of his players last spring who aren't using eye protection to consider adding them next (this) season. No veterans, including St. Louis, who were playing without visors (sans Lecavalier, who added a half-shield for the 2011 NHL Playoffs and continues to wear one) took Yzerman up on his request.
St. Louis, who was smacked in the face during the 2011 playoffs with a stick blade, losing two teeth in the process, getting a double root canal later that night. He still played the rest of the game despite the injury.
St. Louis, who has so many nicks and bruises to his face you would think he doubled as Buster from Mythbusters. I mean, the bloodied picture that is at the top of this story is iconic St. Louis - taken on June 7th, 2004 in the waning moments of the Stanley Cup Finals. It's a throwback image to days of yore when face shields were taboo. Yet it's a promotional poster for visor protection as well.
But I digress, that's debate is all for another time.
Even when it's not his face involved, Marty goes on. He played with a foot injury during a west coast spin last season; he was doubled over sick the morning after Christmas 2010 and did not travel with the team to Atlanta for a game that night...Not only did he still play, but notched two assists that night as well.
In fact, the last injury to Marty that stands out in my mind, was St. Louis breaking his leg in the 2001-02 season. Did he miss playing time at all between returning from that injury and now? Yes. But nothing substantial. A single game or two.
Lets accept a fact here that St. Louis is 36 years old. Injuries become tough to overcome and take longer to heal as you age, no matter what or where an injury is on the body. As much as we all love Marty, the consecutive-games streak was/is likely to fall sometime in the near future if not tonight. (And yes, I am leaving the door open for Marty to still play tonight, Stranger things have happened).
The Lightning season is turning into a tough one to watch, and now it's just gotten a little tougher...
We wait for a more substantial update from the team on Marty's condition. They did publish an overview of what happened with reactions and such.. We'll keep you abreast on things as more info comes out.