'Very lucky' eye injury not worse

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

His left eye swollen nearly shut and sporting stitches above and below, Dion Phaneuf was counting his blessings yesterday.

"It puts in perspective how important your eyes are," he said.

"It's not a lot of fun walking around with one eye, that's for sure."

Phaneuf looked worse for wear after Martin Havlat's high stick came dangerously close to doing irreparable damage in Sunday's clash between the Flames and Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City.

As Phaneuf closed ground to make a body check in the opening minutes, Havlat brought his stick up and hit the Flames defenceman in the face, cutting him on the cheek and eyebrow.

In fact, Havlat's stick was tangled in Phaneuf's helmet when the blueliner began to head for the bench to have his wounds treated.

Phaneuf was barely able to open his eye yesterday, but said he has vision. He hopes to be OK to play tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"It should be fine. Hopefully it opens up. All you can do is ice it and that's about it," he said. "When I can open it, I expect to see fine. I'm very lucky to be able to do that."

Phaneuf went for repairs but still ended up playing 25 minutes and 50 seconds of the 6-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

Havlat was handed a double-minor for high sticking, and then went on to score once in a three-point game, which makes you wonder whether the punishment fit the crime.

"That's not for me to comment on. It's for the league to deal with," Phaneuf said. "Do I think it's right he put his stick up to protect himself? No, but that's all I can say."

Flames head coach Mike Keenan wasn't impressed Havlat received only four minutes for such a careless act that caused injury -- and could have been even worse.

"The discussion I had with the league officials (was) of that being called a major," Keenan said.

"That could have been a major for spearing. Whether you're trying to spear somebody in the belly or in the face, it's still spearing.

"Hopefully, it will be open enough for him to play."

Phaneuf leads the Flames in average ice time (28:55) and has collected two goals and nine assists this season.

He played the rest of Sunday's game with some swelling, but not to the degree he had upon returning home.

"It was swollen, but it wasn't like this," he said.

"It swelled up after and closed over, over the course of (Sunday) and (yesterday)."


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