Coach Sutter sympathetic

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:30 PM ET


 Darryl Sutter asked reporters about Steve Yzerman's status yesterday morning.

 The query was more than simple concern among NHL brethren.

 Sutter experienced the same injury during his playing days, when a puck shot by teammate Doug Wilson deflected off opponent Al MacAdam's stick and caught Sutter in the face -- breaking the orbital bone around his left eye.

 He said the bone shattered "like an egg shell" and needed an inflatable support.

 "My eye fell down inside the cheek, so it was hanging by the muscle," said Sutter of the incident at Minnesota's Met Center on Jan. 2, 1984. "I remember Glen Sonmor coming to the hospital. He was the coach of Minnesota, then. I still remember the first day he came in because I had my eyes patched and couldn't see who it was. He said 'I know you can't see me but I thought a one-eyed guy should come see you.' "

 Sonmor lost an eye during a minor-league hockey game in 1955 and never played again.

 Sutter, however, returned later in the '84 season after having surgery a few weeks after the incident.

 The long-term effects have left him with vision impairment in the left eye.

 "The biggest problem I have is cold and warm," Sutter continued. "If it's cold, that eye waters bad because they had to put new (artificial) tear ducts in that eye. That was one of the things that I remember most because every morning, (hospital staff) would come in and stick needles straight through (the eye) because a piece of bone kept coming out of my nose. The tear ducts were gone, so they just flushed everything into the nasal (cavity) and let it come out of my nose. Your eye has to be moist, so they'd take a needle and shove it right down into it.

 "It gives me the creeps thinking about it."

 So does the sound of the puck hitting the post. The noise it makes is a ringing reminder of when the biscuit hit him.

 Sutter cringed when Yzerman went down during Game 5 after being struck in the face by a Mathieu Schneider point-shot that ricocheted off Rhett Warrener's skate.

 "When you don't see blood, that's what scares you more than anything because then you know the guy's thinking it's his eye," Sutter said. "To be quite honest, thank goodness it's not his eye."

 Like Sutter, Yzerman's orbital bone was fractured.

 Yzerman, however, also suffered a scratched cornea and went through a four-and-a-half hour operation Saturday.

 "I hope (it doesn't end his career)," said Sutter. "I'm just hoping he's all right."

 Sutter asked in which Detroit hospital Yzerman was staying, presumably to drop him a line and lend support.

 "Just to be thankful it's not something that affects the vision," Sutter added. "We actually went through it with Rhett (Warrener) earlier in the series. Two eyes are important. It's not about the game, it's about the guy's livelihood.

 "It's not very often you see two guys in one series with eye injuries. Hopefully, that's the end of it."


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