SUN Hockey Pool

Ref sees visor in his future

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Strathroy's Don Van Massenhoven will join the minority of NHL officials who wear a protective visor when he returns to work in about a month after being struck in the face by a deflected slapshot.

The veteran referee was resting comfortably in the intensive care unit of a Plantation, Fla., hospital yesterday after undergoing seven hours of surgery late Wednesday.

Doctors had to reconstruct his nose, nasal cavity, orbital bone and part of his forehead. Six plates were inserted and muscle tissue was taken from other parts of his body to replace the damaged forehead bone.

Van Massenhoven was hit during the third period of a game between the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils Wednesday night.

He is the latest to sustain a facial injury after being hit by a puck this NHL season. Mats Sundin of Toronto, John Leclair of Pittsburgh and Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn all have sustained injuries from pucks.

"I asked for the George Clooney nose, but I'm not sure if I got it," Van Massenhoven said yesterday.

He was in good spirits and joked about the incident, but said there was a moment he feared for his career.

"(Panthers defenceman) Sean Hill took the shot and I turned (to look at the net) and never saw it coming," he said.

"It was an explosion. It was a haze of black you just can't describe, unless maybe you've been hit in the face with a sledgehammer.

"I hit the ice and grabbed my face and the blood was just pouring out. I had my eyes closed and that was the first thing I worried about, my eyesight. I thought, 'Well, I better open them.' I did and I could see the ice. That was a huge relief.

"One good thing about it is I can see and I've got my wits."

He's been told it will be four to six weeks before he can return to the ice and doctors have already told him he must wear a visor because his face could not sustain another blow like that.

"Half my forehead is not there anymore," Van Massenhoven said. "There's major damage."

Van Massenhoven's wife, Chris, was on the way to Florida yesterday. He can't fly home for at least a week.

"I'm sure we will have to discuss the visor -- I'll be doing the talking and he'll be doing the nodding," she said.

Van Massenhoven's injury came 48 hours after he was one of the officials working the game in Detroit when Red Wings defenceman Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench during the first period.

Medical officials detected no pulse and Fischer was revived with CPR and a defibrillator.

That incident was in Game 710 of Van Massenhoven's NHL career. Then came Game 711 and his injury.

So what about Game 712?

"Just the fact I'm going to get to work the 712th -- at some point -- will be good enough for me."


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