Bruins' Hunwick recovering in hospital

Mike Zeisberger, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:58 PM ET

BOSTON - Boston Bruins defenceman Matt Hunwick was resting comfortably in his Massachusetts General hospital room this evening, just hours after undergoing emergency surgery to have his spleen removed.

“He is in good spirits and planned to watch the game on TV,” Bruins team physician Dr. Peter Asnis told reporters during a press conference earlier this evening, about an hour before the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens took to the ice for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Hunwick apparently suffered the injury while absorbing a body check during the second period of the Bruins’ 4-2 victory in Game 1 Thursday night.

After reporting some minor abdominal pain after practice yesterday, Hunwick was sent to hospital to undergo a CATscan and blood tests.

Hunwick was back at the Bruins practice facility in Wilmington, Mass. this morning for a team meeting when he was felled by knifing pain. That’s when the Bruins medical staff said enough is enough.

Media were cleared out of the Bruins dressing room after the morning skate at the team’s Wilmington, Mass. practice facility in order for paramedics to cart Hunwick out on a stretcher.

“Our trainers did what was right and called an ambulance,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

According to observers, Hunwick’s face was very pale has he was brought to one of two ambulances on the scene. Trainer Donnie Del Negro escorted Hunwick to the hospital.

By 1 p.m. this afternoon, Dr. David Berger was performing the surgery on Hunwick. By all accounts, the operation was successful.

According to Dr. Asnis, athletes can resume their playing careers after the removal of the spleen if they receive the proper immunization. The spleen, Dr. Asnis said, is important to the immune system.

While Dr. Asnis did not rule out a return to the playoffs for Hunwick, the possibility is very unlikely, given that the minimal recovery time is at least six weeks.

Hunwick is the Bruins No. 4 defenceman and was partnered with Dennis Wideman on the power play and five-on-five play. He was replaced in the lineup for tonight’s game by Shane Hnidy.

The incident obviously weighed heavily on the minds of the Bruins players.

“It’s our job to make sure the team is focused,” Julien said. “We’re going to be OK. We’re not going to use this as an excuse.

“When the game starts, we will be under control. It will be us moving on and knowing that Matty’s going to be fine and be back with us as soon as he can.”

There has been a history of spleen injuries during the NHL playoffs in the past decade.

A year ago, New York Rangers forward Sean Avery suffered a lacerated spleen during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semi-final against the Pittburgh Penguins, ending his post-season.

In 2001, Colorado Avalanche forward Peter Forsberg has emergency surgery to remove his spleen after experiencing stomach pains and missed the remainder of his team’s march to the Stanley Cup.


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