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Greg Wyshynski

In the battle of soccer ball vs. Matt Stajan, soccer ball wins

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

Matt Stajan's freak injury for the Toronto Maple Leafs this weekend really nullifies any hopes that the stringent NHL injury reporting policy can place a shroud of vagary over all player ailments. Because it's nearly impossible to sell "upper body injury" to the press when the reality is "laid up in the hospital after being hit in the eye during a boisterous game of pregame soccer during warm-ups."

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At first, all coach Ron Wilson would only say that Stajan saw a general ophthalmologist and would be "out for a while, at least a week." Overlord Brian Burke elaborated today, adding that Stajan will be on restricted activity for up to two weeks after suffering "a hyphema in the right eye," according to TSN. (The network is being quoted as claiming he hit himself in the eye with a soccer ball; TSN's report merely says he was hit by the ball.)

The Globe & Mail said one player had indicated that Stajan was in the hospital at some point on Sunday. Here's David Shoalts with some specifics on the accident:

Given the competitive nature of hockey players, the soccer warmup games can get boisterous, which is what happened on Saturday. Usually, the game is played in the hallways of the arenas where the ceilings are quite high but this one was in a smaller room at the Capitals practice facility, which may also have been a factor in Stajan's injury.

"We were in a small room, so maybe the guys thought there would be a pinball effect, if [the ball] was kicked off a bench it might stay in air a bit longer," [Leafs player John] Mitchell said. "It got a little bit out of hand and it's unfortunate."

Having been to Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where the Leafs practiced, he could be talking about rooms roughly the size of large storage closets. Forget pinball; playing soccer inside of them would be like bouncing a super happy fun ball inside of a phone booth.

Here's hoping for a quick recovery for Stajan, who was the Leafs' leading scorer entering tonight's action. And here's hoping Don Cherry didn't hit anyone when he spit out his morning coffee, following the news that a guy who wears a visor was injured by a soccer ball.

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