CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

13 Awful Hockey Injuries

Original image
Getty Images

Hockey is a tough game. Players drop their gloves to engage in fistfights. They hurtle across the ice at speeds between 20 and 30mph, slamming opponents against the boards and colliding with bone-crushing force. And they do it all with sticks in their hands and very sharp blades attached to their feet—which makes it remarkable that there has been just one death directly related to an on-ice incident in the NHL.

Before the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs kick off tonight, let’s take a look back at some of the sport’s most brutal injuries—and how some of them made the sport safer.

Warning: Some of the videos in this post are difficult to watch. Avoid them if you’re squeamish.

1. Clint Malarchuk’s Jugular Cut Open

Clint Malarchuk had been the goalie of the Buffalo Sabres for just 16 days when, on March 22, 1989, the skate of St. Louis Blues right winger Steve Tuttle slashed a six-inch gash across the side of his neck, slicing open the jugular vein. Sabres trainer Jim Pizzutelli got to Malarchuk in just 10 seconds and put pressure on the wound with a towel. The goalie skated off the ice and was taken to the hospital by ambulance, where he asked a paramedic, "Can you have me back for the third period?" Malarchuk underwent emergency surgery (it took 300 stitches to close the wound) and was able to speak to the media the very next day: "As my heart would beat, it would squirt,” he said. “I thought I was dying then, I really did. I knew it was my jugular vein and I thought I didn't have long to live." He missed five regular season games.

2. Marc Staal Takes a Puck to the Eye

On March 5, 2013, New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal took a slap shot—which was fired by Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen and then deflected off a stick—in the eye. Staal wasn’t wearing a visor. “I couldn’t see a thing, and that was pretty scary,” he said of the injury. “I could see one dot of light. I could see one light bulb. But the guy’s hand would be in front of my face, and there would be nothing there.”

Staal attempted to return to the ice for playoffs that year, but he wasn’t ready, and ultimately came back in September. Starting with the 2013-2014 season, the NHL made visors mandatory for all players entering the league (those who were already in the league could decide for themselves whether or not to wear visors).

3. Nicklas Lidstrom’s "Speared" Testicle

Getty Images

During Game Three of the 2009 Western Conference Finals, Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom suffered a “nearly catastrophic injury” to his testicle when it was "speared" by the stick of Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp. Believe it or not, Lidstrom didn’t immediately have surgery; in fact, he practiced the next day. "I thought it was OK that Saturday when I practiced," Lidstrom said, "but Sunday, Sunday I was just in too much pain. I had surgery during [the fourth] game." Doctors weren’t sure if they would be able to save his testicle—"When I first saw the doctor in the morning he asked me if I had any kids, and if I planned on having more kids”—but they did, and Lidstrom was back on the ice just one week after surgery.

4. Richard Zednik’s Throat Gets Cut

Nineteen years after Malarchuk’s injury, during a February 10, 2008 game against the Sabres, Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik’s carotid artery was nearly severed by the skate of teammate Olli Jokinen. He quickly skated off the ice and was rushed to the hospital. An injury of this type “could be fatal, but I wouldn't say he was close to death," Sabres orthopedic surgeon Les Bisson, who attended to Zednik, said later. "If you can stop the bleeding, then you have some time ... I wouldn't say at any point we're thinking, 'He's going to die now.'" Zednik didn’t return to the ice for seven months.

5. Eddie Shore’s Insane Ear Injury

Hockey Hall of Fame

At a practice during the 1925-1926 season, Boston Bruins players Eddie Shore and Bill Coutu got into it. During the fight, Shore’s ear was nearly ripped off, possibly by Coutu’s stick. Many doctors said it would have to be amputated—it was hanging by a thread of flesh—but one agreed to reattach it. Shore refused an anesthetic and held a mirror while the doctor sewed the ear back on. "I was just a farm boy who didn't want his looks messed up," Shore said. "I made him change the last stitch; he would have left a scar!" He reported to practice the next day wearing a helmet (which weren’t mandatory in the NHL until 1979).

6. Max Pacioretty Gets Hit by Zdeno Chara

After this brutal check by huge Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara (he's 6' 9" without skates) in a March 2011 game, Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty laid on the ice for seven minutes before being taken off on a gurney. Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber described the hit, which left Pacioretty with a severe concussion and a non-displaced cervical fracture of the fourth vertebra:

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara shoved Pacioretty into the padded stanchion that separates the benches in the Bell Centre. Pacioretty's head hit what Canadiens goalie Carey Price would later call "the turnbuckle," and Pacioretty snapped backward, falling to the ice like a Raggedy Ann doll.

The puck was nowhere near Pacioretty at the time, making the hit illegal. Chara received a five minute major and a game misconduct, but no suspension. Meanwhile, in Montreal, fans were calling 911 to report Chara's hit, and Quebec considered pressing charges against the captain. Pacioretty recovered in time to play during the 2011-2012 season.

7. Stephane Robidas Breaks His Leg on the Boards

In the November 29, 2013 game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas attempted to block a pass, fell, and slid forcefully into the end boards, pinning his right leg between them and his body at an awkward angle. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher. "I broke both bones, the tibia and the fibula, and where I broke mine is closer to the ankle," he said later.

The break required surgery, and Robidas never played for the Stars again. He was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in early March 2014, and made his Ducks debut shortly after.

8. Ted Green is Slashed by Wayne Maki

During a September 1969 exhibition game, St. Louis Blues left winger Wayne Maki and Boston Bruins defenseman Ted Green engaged in a stick fight that broadcaster Dan Kelly called “one of the most horrifying, most violent exchanges I’ve ever seen in hockey.” Both men were bloodied, but the fight ended when Maki struck Green in the head, leaving Green with a fractured skull and a brain injury. According to Kelly, "I could see right away that Green was badly hurt. When he tried to get up, his face was contorted and his legs began to buckle under him. It was dreadful. I almost became physically ill watching him struggle because I knew this was very, very serious. I remember it like it happened yesterday.”

Both men were charged with assault, and the NHL suspended and fined them both—Maki for 30 days and Green for 13 games. Though he missed the rest of that season, Green did return to the game and played for another decade.

9. Zach Redmond's Femoral Artery is Slashed

After Winnipeg Jets defenseman Zach Redmond fell during a practice session on February 20, 2013, a teammate accidentally skated over his thigh, cutting his femoral artery. "I didn’t actually feel the cut. I don’t know if I was in shock or what, but the cut itself didn’t hurt," Redmond said. "Then, seeing the blood, that initial shock was like, ‘Whoa!’"

Teammate Anthony Peluso applied pressure to the wound, and Redmond was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent a three-hour surgery to fix the cut. He was skating again six weeks later.

10. Jeremy Roenick Gets His Jaw Broken by Derian Hatcher

In a December 1999 game between the Dallas Stars and the Phoenix Coyotes, Stars defenseman Derian Hatcher hit Coyotes forward Jeremy Roenick high, smashing his face into the glass. Roenick's jaw was dislocated and broken in multiple places, and eight of his teeth were broken.

"I had my jaw wired shut," Roenick said years later. Though the normal healing time for a broken jaw is six weeks, "I actually came back and played 17 days later in the playoffs. I put on a big storm-trooper helmet and played Game 7 of the first round." Hatcher was suspended for seven games.

11. Mark Howe Impaled by Net

Getty Images

In a December 27, 1980 game against the New York Islanders, Hartford Whalers forward/defenseman Mark Howe—son of the legendary Gordie Howe—pivoted toward the net as the Islanders were coming in on a 3-on-2 and was bumped by the Islanders John Tonelli. Howe went into the goal, which at that time was designed with a pointed piece of sheet metal in the center that deflected pucks up into the middle of the net, making it easier for a goal judge to spot a goal (you can see the design in this photo). What happened next was nothing short of horrific:

It all happened in a split second, but Howe knew enough to try to protect his bad back. So, while sliding on his back, he lifted his legs up so he could absorb the blow with his knees. Instead, the metal jammed five inches into his backside, just inches from his spinal column. ... It slid right through Howe, nearly coming out of his hip.

Teammate Nick Fotiu ran for a stretcher. "I ran. I did a sprint. I just flew, man," he said in 2011. "'Get out of the way!'" The piece of metal, he said, "looked like a sword."

Howe spent just six weeks off the ice—a month of that in and out of hospitals, fighting infections and fevers and the nausea caused by his medication. He later sued the NHL for refusing to change the nets and was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers.

12. Donald Brashear Slashed by Marty McSorley

Vancouver Canucks left winger Donald Brashear and Boston Bruins forward/defenseman Marty McSorley clashed several times during a particularly chippy game on February 21, 2000. Then, with just three seconds left in the game, McSorley approached Brashear from behind and struck him on the temple with his stick; Brashear fell and lost his helmet, then suffered a seizure on the ice. The hit gave him a grade 3 concussion. "I still get headaches; I still get tired," Brashear said a few months later. "I want to put this thing in the past, but it keeps following me. You never recover 100 percent from a thing like that."

McSorley was suspended and charged with assault; he asserted he hadn't meant to hit Brashear on the head, but on the shoulder, and said that he could barely raise his left shoulder, which limited his control over the stick. Though he was found guilty, he avoided jail time; his suspension was set for a year following the conviction, and he never played in the NHL again. Brashear returned to play before the end of the season.

13. Sebastian Courcelles' Cheek Slashed Open

Obviously, gruesome injuries aren't just for the big leagues. During a Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (LNAH) game against the Trois Vikings, Sebastian Courcelles, captain of minor-league Thetford Mines Isothermic, was hit in the face by opponent Jean-Michel Bolduc's skate, resulting in a gash so horrific that one of Courcelles' teammates nearly fainted. Courcelles' brother, Simon, "shouted to put pressure on my cheek," Courcelles said. "He then said to call the ambulance... at that time, I told myself that it must not be pretty." It took 15 stitches to close the wound; Courcelles started playing again a week after the injury wearing a full face mask.

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
arrow
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
entertainment
arrow
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
Original image
Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
WEATHER WATCH
BE THE CHANGE
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES