Thursday, May 01, 2008

Kasparaitis Tough

I figure I should get around to posting something about the hockey playoffs. It's kind of a big deal in my life, I've been scheduling around the games for weeks, and watching them has been pretty exciting.

But I hadn't been inspired yet. I mean, there was the miracle of the pretzel in Game 1 versus the Rangers, but you kind of had to be there.

And things have been going so well, you don't want to jinx it. (See, as soon as I finished that sentence the Rangers scored and went up 2-0 in game 4. I might have to finish this later....)

Things changed today when I learned that two of our players turned up this morning wearing boot casts from blocking shots with their feet on Tuesday.

Which put me in mind of the 2001 playoffs.

It was game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, and the Pens were battling the New Jersey Devils to get to the Stanley Cup round. Darius Kasparaitis, who hits harder than anyone I've ever seen play hockey, blocked a shot with his foot in the first period. It hurt, so he went to the locker room. The doctor told him he had broken bones in his foot. And he put the skate back on and went out and played the rest of the game.

I can't find this version on the InterWeb anywhere, but I distinctly remember Kasparaitis telling the story this way:

I took off my skate, and it started to swell up. I didn't want to leave the team with five guys [on defense], so I put the skate back on.
In the versions I can find, he talks about how the skate is like a cast, and skating keeps the swelling down. He didn't rule out playing the next game until after the morning skate that day. It was even reported that he skated at practice that day, though I'm not sure how since there are quotes from his teammate Jaromir Jagr about how his foot was too big for a human-sized skate.

But maybe he was riding a high streak. A few days earlier, he'd scored a goal - a very rare event for him. And it was a game-winning goal. In overtime. In game seven. Against Dominik Hasek.

I still have that goal saved on my old TiVo.

Found this quote from him.
If I can get the boot on, I will play. A normal person couldn't do it, but hockey players are not normal.
Thanks, Darius.

Vintage Kaspar:
Post-Gazette: Kasparaitis will attempt to play in Game 3 despite broken toes
Modern Kaspar - do you read Russian?:

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