At least Blackhawks' Rozsival can smile now
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Hawks defenseman Michal Rozsival practiced Wednesday after a scary moment on the bench during Sunday's victory over Edmonton.
It was a moment that seemed innocuous enough.
Late in Sunday's game against Edmonton at the United Center, a puck off the stick of the Oilers' David Perron sailed toward the Blackhawks' bench.
No big deal. Happens all the time in hockey.
However, the next image is one many will never forget: defenseman Michal Rozsival falling backward off the bench, skates in the air, the Hawks' medical staff rushing to his aid.
To say it shook up Hawks coaches and players would be an understatement.
"When I saw the puck hit him and he fell back like that, that's something you don't want to see," Marian Hossa said.
"We were worried seeing a guy going down on the bench like that," added Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "You're definitely not expecting (someone) getting a puck in the mouth."
Amazingly, Rozsival, sporting a full-face visor and a healthy amount of stitches above his lip, was back on the ice practicing Wednesday and is expected to be ready to go for Thursday night's game against Phoenix.
"I wasn't watching the play. I didn't see the puck coming, so it caught me by surprise," Rozsival said of the frightening moment. "It was like a sucker punch."
And though initially it looked like he had been knocked out cold, the veteran defenseman said he was alert and aware the entire time. "All I was thinking about was how bad it was, and when I found out I had no teeth missing and nothing broken, I was happy to get a few stitches in my lip. It could've been worse, so I'm very lucky."
Indeed he is.
"A little higher or a little lower and it would've been trouble," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He could've gotten hit in a variety of places that could've probably caused some serious damage, but he's fortunate it's just some stitches and pain."
For Rozsival, who earlier in the night had picked up his third assist of the season, it was simply a surreal moment.
"I was just stunned," he said. "I remember everything that happened. It happens quite often, and unfortunately this time it was me."
With the number of times pucks sail benchward throughout a season the only surprise is that these events don't occur more often.
"I remember getting hit on the helmet once when I was on the bench," Hossa said. "Just one second, maybe you're looking away at someone and that could happen.
"You can't pay attention all the time. Sometimes you're changing gloves, getting drinks … but you still have to watch the hockey game.
"He was pretty lucky when you think about what could've happened."
Rozsival's teammates weren't the only ones concerned after he was hit. Perron also was shaken up, enough so that he contacted the Hawks' defenseman afterward to check on him.
"He sent me a text message saying he was sorry and he didn't mean to do that," Rozsival said. "I appreciate that. It was nice of him to do that."
Rozsival still isn't sure if he will be sporting the full visor the next time he hits the ice.
"I've never played with a visor and, to tell you the truth, I thought it would be worse than it was," he said. "We'll see how it goes. I just wanted to try it out. I'm not sure if I'm going to wear it or not."
One thing he will be sporting for a while, however, is a fat lip and a bunch of stitches.
And not surprisingly, now that Rozsival's OK, he has been getting some good-natured lip from his teammates.
"He's got a nice upper lip on him now," Toews said. "It's a good look for him."
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