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13 Awful Hockey Injuries

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Flurry Road: 5 Tips for Safe Driving on Winter Roads
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For drivers in the Upper Midwest, traveling during the winter can range from slightly unsettling to deadly. Between 2011 and 2015, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Auto Insurance Center, an average of 800 fatalities occurred annually as a result of weather-related accidents. Icy roads, poor visibility, and other factors can make cold-weather commuting a dicey proposition.

While we can’t control the weather (yet), we can increase our odds of navigating slush-filled roadways successfully. Mental Floss spoke with American Automobile Association (AAA) driving education expert William Van Tassel, Ph.D., for some key tips on how to get your winter driving in gear.

1. GATHER SUPPLIES.

Before you even start your car up for a trip through inclement weather, Van Tassel recommends you pack a worst-case scenario trunk full of supplies. “In case of emergency, you want things on board like water, a blanket, a flashlight, gloves, and kitty litter,” he says. (That last one is for traction in case you get stuck in a snowbank.) You should also have road flares, a shovel, an ice scraper, and a fully-charged cell phone to call for assistance if needed.

2. SLOW DOWN.

Posted speed limit signs assume you’re driving on clear and clean roadways. If snow or ice has accumulated, you need to adjust your speed accordingly. “In slick conditions, tires lose a lot of traction,” Van Tassel says. “You should be cutting your speed down by half or more.” Unfortunately, a lot of people learn this the hard way. “After a snowstorm, we’ll see more crashes on day one than days two or three.”

Van Tassel also cautions to avoid becoming overconfident on snow tires. While they provide better traction in bad weather, it’s not license to speed up.

3. MAINTAIN A SAFE DISTANCE FROM OTHER CARS.

You should be doing this regardless, but bad weather makes it even more crucial. Keep your vehicle at a safe distance from cars behind, in front, and off to the sides, as well as away from pedestrians or cyclists. If you need to brake suddenly, you need time—and space—to avoid a collision. “You really want more space in front,” Van Tassel says. Try to stay between seven and 10 seconds behind the vehicle ahead. That means seeing a landmark and then counting down until you pass the same marker. If you’re only a few seconds behind, you’re too close.

4. DON’T STEER INTO SKIDS.

“That was an old rule of thumb,” Van Tassel says. “The problem is, by the time I remember to steer into a skid, I’m already in a ditch.” If you feel your vehicle sliding, it’s better to steer in the direction you want to go. “You’ll drive where you look, so don’t look at a telephone pole.”

To help maintain control of the car, you want to focus on doing one thing at a time. “If you’re going through a turn, brake, finish braking, then turn. Don’t brake and turn at the same time.”

5. KEEP YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON.

Yep, even in broad daylight. Bad weather limits visibility, and headlights allow both you and your fellow drivers to orient a vehicle. “You’re twice as visible to other drivers that way,” Van Tassel says. “When people can see you, they can avoid you.”

Van Tassel also recommends that drivers avoid relying on fancy car technology to keep them safe. While blind spot monitoring and lane changing sensors are useful, they’re not there so you can zone out. “The tech is there to back you up if you need it. Drive the car, but don’t rely on those things,” he says.

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25 Polite Compliments You Can Pay a Coworker
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January 24 is National Compliment Day, and a great way to celebrate is by making a concerted effort to praise the people you work with. Be sure to consider when an appropriate time and place for a compliment would be (for instance, shy people would rather be commended on their stellar presentation in private rather than in front of a crowd), but know that whether a coworker is a longtime friend or more of an acquaintance, lauding their work performance and letting them know you appreciate their skills could really make their day.

1. "YOU HAVE A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR."

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Every office has one person who knows how to ease tensions at work by cracking a quick joke or sharing a funny link. If this person's sense of humor makes your job a little more enjoyable, make sure to let them know.

2. "NICE JOB ON THAT PRESENTATION."

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Public speaking is intimidating, especially to someone who's new to their job and not used to giving presentations. Notice your coworker is nervous before a big meeting? Seek them out afterwards. Letting them know you enjoyed and learned from what they said will hopefully make them feel more confident next time.

3. "YOU ALWAYS KNOW WHEN TO LEND A HAND."

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You probably know someone who's always willing to help out with a project when you need it most, and odds are they rarely receive the recognition they deserve. Next time a coworker offers some relief when you're feeling overwhelmed, don't let it go unnoticed. Set aside time to tell them you see the great work they're doing and you appreciate it.

4. "YOU'RE A SAVVY PROBLEM-SOLVER."

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Being able to see problems differently is a valuable skill in the workplace. It can open up a team to new ideas and save precious time and resources. Sometimes you may be the person to spot the way out of a problem, and other times it's a coworker who points out the solution that was right in front of your face. If you're grateful for their point of view, they deserve to hear it.

5. "YOU'RE A GREAT COMMUNICATOR."

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Without communication, collaborating with the people in your workplace would be impossible. A great communicator knows how to understand other people's perspectives, explain their own, and make sure they're never keeping anyone in the dark. They're also not above receiving a compliment every now and then.

6. "I LOVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM."

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For some people, getting up and going to work each day is easy: They're personally invested in the company they work for and enjoy helping it succeed. Maybe you're not there yet, but you might see this level of passion and enthusiasm in at least one person you work with. Don't let that inspiring attitude go unrecognized.

7. "I APPRECIATE YOUR TRUST."

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Effective management is just as much about offering guidance and support as knowing when to back off. Sometimes leaving employees room to breathe is the best thing managers can do to encourage growth and creativity. It's also a thankless move that often goes unrewarded. Expressing your appreciation to your manager can make a big difference in their day.

8. "WHAT A FUN PARTY (LUNCH/HAPPY HOUR/ETC.)."

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People take certain work events for granted without stopping to consider the employees who make them possible. Birthday cakes don't magically appear and after-work happy hours don't plan themselves. Behind every fun break you get from your day-to-day duties, there's a coworker who took the initiative to make it happen, and they would like to hear that you enjoyed the fruits of their labor.

9. "YOU'VE GOT A KILLER WORK ETHIC."

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We all wish we could be the employee who blows through projects without breaking a sweat. If you're not that person, the least you can do is pay the tireless person in your workplace a compliment—especially after a big project that had them tackling most of the work.

10. "YOUR POSITIVE ATTITUDE IS INFECTIOUS."

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Just like one pessimistic employee can bring down the whole office, a positive person can have the opposite effect. It's hard to feel grumpy about starting a new week when the colleague sitting next to you does everything with a smile on their face.

11. "YOU ASK GREAT QUESTIONS."

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Asking about something you're not familiar with at work can be intimidating, whether it's about a new policy or procedure or perhaps about the ins and outs of a department you don't usually work with. But asking for help or clarification is also the only way to learn and grow. Complimenting a coworker who asks a lot of questions lets them know that not only is that OK, it's valued.

12. "I LOVE YOUR IDEAS."

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When someone introduces a great idea at work, people often respond in one of two ways: They get upset that they didn't think of it themselves, or they admire the person for their brilliance. If you want to strengthen work relationships and feel better in the long run, we suggest expressing the latter.

13. "YOU'RE GREAT AT TAKING INITIATIVE."

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Employees who take initiative help businesses run smoothly. Managers don't have to worry about babysitting them, and their coworkers never end up picking up their slack. Next time you go into work, find the person you know who always takes initiative and compliment them for their efforts.

14. "YOU'RE VERY CREATIVE."

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Even if your job isn't particularly inspiring, you may have coworkers who find everyday opportunities to be creative. Their creativity might shine through in the form of a sharply designed flyer, a well-written memo, or an innovative solution to the problem at hand. Sometimes people who don't work in a traditionally artistic field are rarely complimented for their creativity—you can change that.

15. "I APPRECIATE YOU TAKING RESPONSIBILITY."

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Do you know someone at work who's taken responsibility—whether for a botched performance, a failed pitch, or a missed deadline—even when they could have gotten away with keeping quiet? That's not easy to do. Recognize their actions, and they may be inclined to do it more often.

16. "YOU'RE SO FLEXIBLE."

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Sure, you can promise your coworker this is the absolute last time you'll ask them to push a meeting back a couple of days or move up a deadline by a week. Or, you can compliment them on being so flexible and thank them for working around the changes so efficiently.

17. "I LOVE YOUR CONFIDENCE."

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Confidence in the workplace is hard to ignore. It radiates from everything a person does, and when you're working on a project with such a person, it can make you feel more confident as well. Let this employee know that you appreciate their poise and self-assuredness.

18. "I APPRECIATE HOW TECH-SAVVY YOU ARE."

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Who do you turn to when your screen freezes, or when the long email you spent the last 15 minutes crafting suddenly disappears? Likely, instead of running to I.T. every time, you ask a nearby coworker who always seems to have the answers. Even if they don't share their know-how for the praise, they deserve a compliment and gratitude.

19. "YOU'RE A GREAT BAKER."

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People who bake for their coworkers are a special breed. By sharing what they made with the office, it means that they not only took the time to cook with you in mind, but also that they're sharing a bit of their personal likes or hobbies with you. What better time to compliment the chef than when they bring platter of fresh cookies to the morning meeting?

20. "I ADMIRE YOUR LEADERSHIP."

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A good leader is many things, including fair, compassionate, and hard-working. But whatever qualities your manager exhibits that make you appreciate working for him or her, find a chance to let them know you commend their leadership, and that you're a better employee because of it.

21. "YOU HAVE A MIND FOR DETAIL."

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Details make a big difference at work, whether you're writing a big report or a thank you email. Sometimes the details that make the biggest impact on a project are hard to notice on their own. See if you can spot the smart, subtle details the next time you're evaluating your coworker's work, and tell them if you're impressed by what you find.

22. "YOU'RE ON MY WAVELENGTH."

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It may not always top lists of most valuable skills to take into the workplace, but empathy can do wonders for office culture. When team members practice empathy and really make an effort to understand the people they work with, they make everyone's job easier. This is one skill that definitely deserves recognition.

23. "THANKS FOR BEING SO RELIABLE."

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No matter what you do for work, it's impossible to do your job entirely on your own. Reliable coworkers you can depend on for support, guidance, and inspiration are a priceless resource. If they make the effort to show up and work hard consistently, the least you can do is show them you appreciate it.

24. "YOU'RE A REAL TEAM PLAYER."

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In order to succeed as a team, your colleagues need to have the right attitude. Maybe there's one person on your team who sets a good example for the rest of you: They know exactly when to step back and listen to other people's ideas and when to come forward with their own. Sometimes being a good team player means swallowing your pride to do what's best for the group, and that's behavior worth celebrating.

25. "YOU GIVE GREAT ADVICE."

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At some point in your career, you've likely relied on a more experienced coworker for advice. Without mentors, many of the world's most successful people wouldn't be where they are today. Never be ashamed to ask for guidance, and once you receive it, make sure to show your gratitude.

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