Niklas Hjalmarsson still can't talk after taking a Jonas Brodin wrist shot to the throat in Game 2 of the Chicago Blackhawks' second-round series with the Minnesota Wild. In yet another testiment to the enduring toughness of hockey players, the blueliner didn't miss a shift in the game.
And, despite the fact that the damage has rendered him literally speechless two days later, he won't miss Game 3 either.
He's fine. So what if he nearly swallowed a puck? That's just playoff hockey. "I was more worried he got hit in the eye or something like that," said Johnny Oduya, casually shrugging off that his defense partner took a deleterious shot to the thing that you breathe and speak out of.
Fortunately for Hjalmarsson, he's always been the part to let his play do the talking. Still, being the Silent Bob to Oduya's Jay will prove challenging at times, as Joel Quenneville explained on Tuesday.
"Obviously you like to talk to the goalie playing it, your partner, whether he's got an out or you're the out; sometimes that can be beneficial," Quenneville said. "We always want to communicate on the bench, make sure we're talking as well. But I think we're familiar with a lot, and he's familiar with the players around him and changes as well.
"He's pretty aware of how to play the game and those types of situations. Maybe he's got to adapt a little bit, but for the most part, we expect him not to change too much."
We're very excited to see these adaptations. It's entirely likely that Hjalmarsson becomes a skating Mr. Bean or Charlie Chaplin, all physical comedy in lieu of line after line of needless dialogue.
He can call for pucks by banging his stick on the ice. Or maybe he can put a bell on it, like Tio Salamanca.
If he disagrees with the call, no matter -- Quenneville has already developed a nonverbal gesture for that.
And if he wants to differ with his opponents, rather than shouting at them, he can try the passive-aggressive approach, like Corey Perry:
Mind you, if the passive-aggressive approach isn't Hjalmarsson's cup of tea, there's always aggressive-aggressive:
Great thing is, if he pulls a stunt like this, he won't even have to answer for it after the game. He can't even say "No comment".
The other option, of course, is that he holds up signs, like Wile E. Coyote. That would rule.
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