COLUMBUS - Had Taylor Hall being wearing a helmet during Edmonton’s pregame warmup Tuesday night, he might be minus about 30 stitches on his forehead right now.
He wasn’t, though, and left the ice soaked in blood after a nightmarish accident with Corey Potter’s skate blade.
Needless to say, the Oilers helmet policy is now under review.
“We’re going to talk about it,” said GM Steve Tambellini. “It was a bizarre happening, but it was a reminder that, whether practising, playing the game or in warmups, things can happen.”
The NHL doesn’t insist that players wear helmets in warmup, and many choose not to as it’s the one opportunity to let their hair flow in the breeze and for fans to get a look at them.
“There’s no real rhyme or reason to that, unfortunately,” said head coach Tom Renney. “Even in practice with guys with their chin straps undone, little things like that … you have young people watching this game and they need to see things done properly. This is a hell of a lesson for a lot of people to learn from. Hopefully everyone does.”
Shawn Horcoff doesn’t, and probably still won’t after this.
“I knew that was going to come up,” he said. “That happens once every … I remember taking a puck in the face, Sutton took one. It happens. If he has a helmet on it’s different, but it’s such a freak thing.”
It’s hard to imagine Hall won’t be wearing one next time he plays, possibly Thursday.
“He might be wearing one walking down the street,” said Renney.
WANDERING THE DESERT
The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
We’re talking about the Columbus hopes, here.
After a much-publicized off-season push that brought the likes of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, the habitually below-average Blue Jackets had visions of a long-overdue playoff spot dancing in their heads.
Eight games into the season, the dream was dead.
“In the summer, after we made those moves and signed some guys, I thought we were going to have a really good team,” said Columbus centre Derick Brassard. “And everything went downhill. We missed Carter for a couple of weeks, we played without Wisniewski for a little while, we were losing … everything went downhill and that’s where we’re at right now.”
They’ve moved into the Oilers’ old place — dead last in the NHL.
“Obviously guys are disappointed here, we had a big summer with free agency and a couple of trades at the draft,” said Derek Dorsett. “There was so much hope. Then we got off to a terrible start, 0-7-1, and for some reason we couldn’t dig ourselves out of it.
“It just kept piling and piling on us.”
The key for Columbus, as it was and still is for the not-much-better Oilers, is to keep the dressing room from becoming a negative place, to somehow find meaning in the last three months of a season that’s already lost.
“It’s been really hard for us, especially mentally,” said Brassard. “Just coming to the rink every day when you’re not winning, it’s hard. Nobody’s in a good mood.
“It’s my fourth year and we’ve had one winning season. It’s been a tough place to come every day but I enjoy myself, I like what I do and hopefully we’re going to finish strong.”
As he closes in on his 37th birthday, Vinny Prospal is just a point off the Columbus scoring lead, which isn’t just a knock on the younger guys, it’s a credit to his perseverance and dedication.
“For me it’s really easy with him, he works,” said head coach Todd Richards. “You watch him in practice, he works. There’s a passion to play the game, there’s a passion to practise. It doesn’t just come. You can’t just show up in a game and think that if you’ve had success it’s just going to happen.”
EBS IN THE FLOW
Jordan Eberle is with the team and went for a brief skate after the rest of the players had left the ice on Tuesday and is still aiming for a pre-All Star game return.
There is absolutely no need to hurry back from sprained/torn knee ligaments, but if he’s ready, he’s ready.
“I think a lot of it has to do with how well I’m feeling on the ice,” he said. “If there was any doubt in my mind that I couldn’t make it before the All-Star break, I wouldn’t come.”
He says the risk of reinjury is remote.
“It was kind of a weird injury,” said Eberle. “Talking to the trainers, they’ve never seen that ligament torn. It was one of those things where you’d almost have to do the exact same movement to re-injure it. I’ve done it once in 20 years, so hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”