Yzerman struck by puck

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:50 PM ET


DETROIT --  As quiet as the crowd got when Craig Conroy scored the game-winner, there was nothing as eerie as the silence blanketing The Joe when Steve Yzerman lay writhing on the ice.

 Almost 12 minutes into the second period of yesterday's 1-0 Calgary win, the Wings inspirational leader was hit with a Mathieu Schneider slapshot from the point that ricocheted off Rhett Warrener and into Yzerman's face as the centre was about to circle behind the net.

 Yzerman immediately dropped to the ice clutching the left side of his face in obvious pain before standing up and frantically skating towards the corner where he quickly fell on his stomach again.

 As the trainer rushed onto the ice and a hush fell over the crowd, the most beloved sports figure in the city began flailing his legs in a state of panic.

 "It looked scary -- you could tell he was in real pain," said Nicklas Lidstrom, whose teammate was taken to the hospital for X-rays of the facial area where he got hit.

 "We saw him during the second intermission with a patch on his eye and he was talking. I'm not sure if he's going to play or not but we have to respond."

 As Yzerman was being tended to while teammate Robert Lang kneeled next to his fallen teammate, the crowd began chanting "Stevie, Stevie" before the NHL's longest serving captain sat up.

 After about two minutes, he was helped to his feet and assisted off the ice to a thunderous ovation.

 "I think everybody on the bench was stunned -- I don't know if that's the correct word," said Wings coach Dave Lewis, whose club was scored on five minutes later.

 "They couldn't believe how unfortunate it was that Steve got hit in the face and had to leave the game.

 "We have to overcome this."

 A similarly scary incident occurred at The Joe three games earlier when Warrener was clipped in the eye and tried to scramble to his feet and get to the bench while holding his face.

 The irony is the wayward stick that caught Warrener and forced him to miss two games was wielded by Yzerman.

 Another irony is Warrener was playing his first game back from the injury with a visor -- the very apparatus that likely would have prevented Yzerman's injury.

 Both incidents were complete accidents and both produced the type of scary scene no sports fans wants to see.

 Depending on the extent of his injury, how long the Wings playoff run lasts and the upcoming CBA situation, there's a possibility his sad exit may be the last glimpse Wings fans have of Yzerman as a player.

 He's 38 years old and has been slowed by a knee injury that may prompt him to retire, especially if the expected lockout lasts for an extended period of time.

 Perhaps one positive -- there didn't appear to be any blood on the towel Yzerman held against the left side of his face.

 Known for valiantly fighting through various ailments over the years, Yzerman is easily one of the most complete and dedicated players of all time. If there was a way he could've returned to the game -- or at least the bench -- the hero of Game 2 would have.

 Instead, he was in doctors hands when his club needed him most.


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