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At the end of the first period of Game 5 between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night, defenseman Sami Salo(notes) was hit by a Duncan Keith(notes) slapshot and hit the ice in agony before leaving for the locker room in pain. He was later loaded into ambulance on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital in Chicago.

The announcers initially thought the puck hit his midsection. TSN (and later Team 1040 in Vancouver and the NHL Network) reported that the point of impact was uncomfortably lower: That Salo may have ruptured a testicle on this play.  

Late Sunday night, Vancouver Province beat writer Jason Botchford reported that Salo "did not rupture a testicle" and that initial reports were that he was taken to the hospital as a precaution in case he had.

Vancouver won the game, 4-1, with a great effort to make up for Salo's absence. That made the series 3-2 in favor of the Blackhawks, as the action shifts back to British Columbia for Game 6. If Salo plays in that game, every man in North America will bow out of respect ... or at the very least owe him a beer.

Incredibly, this marks the third straight postseason in which a player has suffered an injury near his most sensitive of areas. It's pretty much the worst hat trick in the history of mankind:

• In 2009, Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) of the Detroit Red Wings revealed that he was speared in the testicles in the conference finals against Chicago and missed two games with what was called a "nearly catastrophic injury to his testicle."

• In 2008, Patrick Thoreson of the Philadelphia Flyers was injured when a Mike Green(notes) shot hit him in the groin, and initial fears were that the injury would "require the removal of one of his testicles." Thankfully, tests showed he did not in fact rupture a testicle, so the most painful thing for him and the Flyers was that the refs allowed play to continue after Thoreson went down, with Green scoring a game-tying goal. Ouch.

More from Canucks blog Pass It To Bulis. As expected, levity is born from moments of adversity: There is a Sami Salo's Ruptured Testicle Facebook page. And someone has made the regrettable "Sami Solo" joke on Twitter. And there's a Salo testicle Twitter feed. And we're guessing there's going to be a wince-worthy "History Will Be Made" parody. (UPDATE: And there is one. Hockey fans are nuts. OK, poor choice of words ...)

You're in our prayers, Mr. Salo ... while this situation lingers in our nightmares. 

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