NASHVILLE -- When they saw the blood leaking from Ethan Moreau's eye after an errant high stick, hockey was totally insignificant - all that mattered was the well-being of a friend.
Even now, as positive reports of Moreau's injury reach the Edmonton Oilers, their main concern is more about his health than the hole his absence leaves in their lineup.
"It was pretty scary for everyone, especially the situation we initially thought might happen," said Shawn Horcoff, who feared the worst when Antti Mittinen's stick came up and raked across Moreau's eyeball in the final moments of Saturday's game with Minnesota.
"When you play with a guy for 10 years, he becomes family. When something like that happens, it really becomes hard. It gets pretty scary. We're all really happy with how it looks like it's going."
Fernando Pisani, who came face to face with a career-ending situation during his battle with ulcerative colitis last summer, knows exactly what was going through Moreau's mind.
"Those are incidents you don't like to have happen to guys," he said. "You're talking about your vision. If you break a bone or something, it'll heal, but when you're talking about your eyesight it's a very scary thing."
Head coach Craig MacTavish says everything they're hearing from the doctors is good.
"He saw the doctor again (Monday) and everything went well," said MacTavish. "All the news has been really positive. It's hard to completely anticipate and project how it's going to go, but everything looks to be pointing to a complete and full recovery, so far."
Moreau told MacTavish it feels like there's something in his eye that he can't get out.
"As he puts it, it's like water torture: It's not completely painful, it's just a consistent annoyance."
They don't even want to guess when Moreau can start thinking about hockey again.
"How long that is depends on the next few days," said MacTavish. "There's an obstacle every couple of days to get over."
In the meantime, there are games to play, big ones that will have a significant impact on their season. And they're going to miss Moreau, especially in a tough building like Nashville.
"He brings a lot of intensity on the ice," said Horcoff. "We're going to have to step up in that void and try to replace it collectively."
MacTavish will either slide Robert Nilsson into the lineup or try and replace some of Moreau's muscle with J.F. Jacques. Neither brings the same intangibles.
"It's hard, he's our captain, he's our leader on the ice and off the ice," said Ales Hemsky. "But hopefully he will be all right and he can come back as soon as possible."
"Ethan is a huge, pivotal part of our team," said Pisani. "He brings so much physical presence to our game and leadership on and off the ice, it's going to be missed. But it's one of those things where you have to move on.
VISOR ADVISER? Ethan Moreau's eye injury will no doubt trigger a new round of visor debates, but the players say it should remain a matter of personal choice.
"I wear a visor because I'm used to it, I've worn it all my life," said Hemsky. "I understand those guys (who don't), they didn't wear it before."
Eye injuries are also very rare compared with concussion issues that have ended dozens of careers. "Stuff happens," said Hemsky. "It's nothing you can control. It's just bad luck."