Everyone knows hockey players are some of the toughest athletes you’ll ever come across, right up there with MMA fighters, football players, and rugby players. However, they are still human, and thus are still prone to injure themselves in bizarre (and embarrassing) ways no one would expect. Today, with the NHL preseason officially under way and hockey injuries back on the sports radar, we’re going to take a look at some of the strangest injuries to ever befall these gladiators on ice skates. Some are pretty recent and some are pretty remote, but they’re all pretty weird. So take a look…and have a laugh.
Getting bit by a dog isn't all that strange. However, getting bit by your own dog is. That's what happened to former Sharks goalie Arturs Irbe in July 1994. Rambo, his Newfoundland/Labrador retriever mix, bit the hand that fed him, breaking his finger, severing an artery, and damaging nerves.
19. Dog Bite – Arturs Irbe
The late Wade Belak was one of the NHL's toughest enforcers during his career. However, he was no match for spiders. The guy missed the Leafs' season-opener in 2005 after a spider bite caused his ankle to swell so much that he couldn't get his skate on his foot.
And no, it wasn't a radioactive spider, so Belak didn't get any super powers from the incident.
18. Spider Bite – Wade Belak
What's worse than a spider bite? Try a snake bite. While playing a round of golf back home in his native Finland during the 2000 off-season, former Canuck (and current Lightning) was bitten by a snake. He would end up missing two games later that October do to "complications" from the bite, whatever that means.
17. Snake Bite – Sami Salo
Legendary Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch was smooth on the ice, but apparently not so smooth on the streets of New York. In 1993 he slipped while getting out a cab and broke his ankle. He played just 36 games in 1992-93 as a result.
16. Taxi Dismount Fail – Brian Leetch
In 1987, St. Louis Blues forward Mark Reeds was heating some oil in a pot on the stove so he could make himself some popcorn. (Yes, making popcorn on the stove. It was the olden days, after all.) Unfortunately, he heated the oil with the lid on, and when he removed the lid the influx of oxygen caused the oil to catch fire. He suffered second and third degree burns on his right hand, and a pretty big bruise on his ego.
15. Popcorn Burn – Mark Reeds
Former NHL (current KHL) defensemen Brent Sopel has always had issues with his back, which is exactly the sort of thing that can lead to freak injuries. Case in point? In 2007 Sopel missed the opening game of the playoffs after his back when out while—wait for it...—bending over to pick up a cracker.
14. Cracker Eating – Brent Sopel
Darren Turcotte missed time with the Sharks in January of 1997 after he punctured his eardrum with a cotton swab prior to the game. However, as stupid as that injury is, the really crazy thing is that it was not the first time San Jose lost a player do to overzealous ear cleaning. The same damn thing happened to Rick Lessard in October of 1991.
13. Q-Tip Mishap – Darren Turcotte
Last month, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux injured his right index finger while golfing...when the club's shaft shattered and splintered into his hand. Result? Five to six weeks of recovery.
Of course, this only begs the question, what the hell was he doing with that golf club? If he was using the way it was intended, then it's kind of an awesome story. ("Dude, this one time, I hit the ball so hard that the golf club EXPLODED!") On the other hand, if he was having a golf course temper tantrum and smashing it against a tree or something (something I would do), then it's kind of embarrassing.
12. Golf Club Stabbing – Claude Giroux
Even if Giroux's injury was the result of golf rage, it's still not the most embarrassing golf-related hockey injury. In 2008, just weeks before the start of the season, (former) Blues defenseman Erik Johnson tore his ACL...while getting out of a golf cart. The official story? Foot got stuck between the pedals. Unofficially, though, people wondered whether there wasn't some horseplay involved. It was a team golf outing.
11. Golf Cart Driving Injury – Erik Johnson
Goalies suffer groin injuries all the time. It's a hazard of the trade. However, in 2004, Ron Tugnutt, owner of one of the greatest names in hockey history, pulled his groin while tying his shoes.
If that kind of thing happens to you, it's probably time to retire.
10. Shoelace Tying Injury – Ron Tugnutt
Sylvain Turgeon liked working on cars when he had down time away from the rink. Unfortunately, while working on his car in 1988—while rehabbing a back injury—Turgeon suffered flash burns to his eyes after staring at his welder's torch.
9. Welding Blindness – Sylvain Turgeon
One of the things I just love about hockey players is their lack of pretentiousness. Sure, many of them are millionaires, but they're also badass Canadians (mostly) who aren't going to hire some other guy to remove the snow from their driveways. If the guys on Wall Street were more like this, the world would be a better place.
That being said, in 2008, while recovering from a HERNIATED DISC in his back, the great Joe Sakic decided it would be a good idea to go out and clear his driveway with the snowblower. In doing so, he somehow managed to break three fingers and damage the tendon in his left hand. This required surgery, and his missed the rest of the season.
So yeah, sometimes you should just pay the neighbor kid to shovel your driveway.
8. Snowblower Injury – Joe Sakic
During the 2000 offseason, Leafs goalie Glenn Healy was cutting the bag off his bagpipes when he slipped, fell, and sliced his hand open.
I have no clue what any of that means, but it sounds painful.
7. Bagpipe Repair Mishaps – Glenn Healy
Prior to a game on October 24, 2008, Manny Legace fell and injured his hip. That sounds pretty normal until you hear how he fell. You see, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was in the house that night to drop the ceremonial puck, and Legace tripped over the carpet that had been laid out on the ice so Palin didn't trip.
6. Tripped on Sarah Palin's Red Carpet – Manny Legace
Working on a farm doesn't sound like a fun way to spend a vacation to me, but I don't begrudge anyone to whom that does appeal. That being said, if you make millions of dollars using your hands and feet, it is probably a good idea to avoid dangerous farm equipment at all costs.
Pat Verbeek learned that the hard way. While doing some work on his Ontario farm back in 1985, the Devils winger got his thumb sliced right off. Fortunately doctors were able to reattach it, and Verbeek made a full recover.
5. Farming Accident – Pat Verbeek
Does this badass look like the kind of guy who would sit down on a glass coffee table, break said table, and lacerate the hell out his wrist, causing serious nerve damage?
Why yes, he does. And that did happen to him back in June of 1988.
4. Coffee Table Sitting – John Vanbiesbrouck
How would you like to be remembered as the guy who hurt his shoulder while blow drying his hair? Because that's pretty much how former Wild goalie Manny Fernandez will be remembered after his 2005 mishap.
3. Hair Blowdrying Injury – Manny Fernandez
A yes, good old Dustin Penner. In January 2012, the Kings forward threw out his back while eating pancakes.
Now, there's nothing particularly embarrassing about this. It could happen to anyone. But still...injured while eating pancakes? That is awesome.
(FYI, this photo is from a charity pancake breakfast that Penner helped out with—a pretty cool way to make fun of yourself while raising money for a good cause.)
2. Pancake Eating Injury – Dustin Penner
The number one injury on this list was not particularly serious. Just hilarious.
A few weeks ago, Mike Fisher was trying to capture a chipmunk that had found its way into his and Carrie Underwood's house. He discovered the hard way that the little critter definitely did not want to be captured.
Want to see the thing bite him? Well, here you go: