In the wake of this past tuesday nights game against the Edmonton Oilers, Zach Parise of the Wild took a puck to the mouth. In the moment, with blood pouring on the ice, he just picked up his tooth and skated off. Like the vast majority of injured hockey players, he returned to the game as soon as possible.
It's a concept that is a part of the sport; that all pain is tolerable and that you cant leave because your team mates need you. It is existant in the NHL and existant at all levels of hockey, and all age groups. From peewee to the NHL, players are grown up with the mentality to always finish the game
Unless it's a serious injury or an injury that affects the players mobility or life, hockey players have the need to return as soon as possible. It's the kind of toughness that only few sports have, and a reputation that hockey players are proud of.
There are countless examples of players getting gruesome injuries, only to get stitched up and return only minutes later. In tuesday's game, Parise left in the first period, and returned to start the second. After getting his mouth smashed, getting stitches and dental work, he took no time for himself and went right back to his job.
Last week, it was Roman Polak demonstrating the hockey toughness. He took a slap shot straight to his jaw, and required stitches inside and outside his mouth. The blood needed to be scrapped off the ice, and many thought that his night was ended. He returned, only missing a few shifts. He sat down on the bench with a smile on his face as his team mates were teasing him a bit, saying he looks the same. The most noteworthy thing of his injury was that he came back wearing no facial protection, and he didn't ease up the rest of the game. Later his face swelled up so much he couldn't see out of his eye.
In the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, it was Patrice Bergeron showing that injuries seem non existant among hockey players. In game 6, he played the entire game with the following injuries: torn cartilage, a broken rib, a separated shoulder, and a punctured lung. Any one of those injuries would knock an athlete out of his respective sport, and the fact that Bergeron played through all four injuries speaks volumes.
My most favorite story was the case of Rich Peverley of the Dallas Stars last season. He had a history of heart issues, but it was in a game last year where on the bench his heart stopped and he collapsed. The trainers and doctors managed to quickly take his lifeless body to the change room and revive him. The best part of the story was the fact that he got up and tried to get back to the game. The man literally died, was revived, and decided he wanted to finish the game. Of course, the doctors and team officials wouldn't let him and he was taken to the hospital.
There are countless other tales of hockey players returning to the game, and these were just a few. Athletes in general are tough, but no one can argue that those in the sport of hockey prove that they deserve the title of the toughest athletes. There is one saying I wish to leave off with:
Hockey players don't know they are injured until the game is over.