There are times when Maple Leaf fans wonder why an unknown such as Jeff Finger is making $3.5 million US per season.
And there are times such as Thursday in Washington when they're glad to have him. By way of helping in a 2-1 win over the Capitals, Finger took a puck just above his left eye. TV close-ups caught the gusher of blood and it was hard to miss the giant red stain on the Verizon Center ice the rest of the night.
Finger took 35 stitches, returned with a visor and was back at practice yesterday at Lakeshore Lions Arena.
"Yeah, I saw (the blood trail) on TV," Finger said with a chuckle. "There was a little puddle left there. But you can't throw water on it, you have to scrape it, right?"
Finger has experimented with a visor before, but said this one will stay on for the club's remaining 17 games.
"It's at the point in my career where it might be tempting to put one on for good," the Michigan native said. "I know my mother would be happy if I did.
"I've worn one half my career. In the AHL, you have to. It's a player's preference, but it probably wouldn't be a bad thing if they were mandatory. It could've been worse, it could've been season-ending if it was a centimetre lower.
"That's the way it goes. Something like that's bound to happen more than once when you play (defence) as many years as you do. It's amazing it doesn't happen more often."
Finger already has missed substantial time with a broken foot, in fact almost every Leaf defender except Pavel Kubina and Ian White have had serious injuries.
So Erik Reitz will fit right in, joining the team with a fractured right foot in the service of the New York Rangers. Acquired at the trade deadline, he was hobbling around Lakeshore yesterday introducing himself and hopes to know more about his recovery schedule by today.