Matt Hendricks pointed to the interior of his right foot, where he had once been struck by a puck that left him with a broken bone, and declared: “two screws.” There have been other cracks caused by unyielding pucks, continued the Edmonton Oilers gritty winger during a discussion about exterior shot protection. Hendricks is one of the converted. He wears shot blockers on his skates, but on a team ranked seventh in the NHL with 1,105 blocked shots, he is not in the majority. “I’ve tried them because I hurt my foot one year so I put it on but I just couldn’t play like that,” forward Jordan Eberle said. “I didn’t feel the same skating with it.” “I have broken a lot of bones in my ankles so maybe I should have in my day,” veteran Ryan Smyth said, “but I think it’s old habit now.” Nail Yakupov, who was hit on the foot by a Justin Schultz shot back on Feb. 27, returned for seven games but has since missed the last four games with a cracked bone. He won’t play against the Anaheim Ducks and likely won’t play Sunday either. Earlier this season, Ales Hemsky missed seven games after he was stuck by a Luke Gazdic shot, and back in December, Ryan Jones was hit by an Anton Belov slapshot in a practice. Bruised and broken foot and ankle bones abound in the NHL. “I’ve had two or three of (the protectors) break from shots, so you’d have to assume it would have done something to my foot,” Hendricks said. “But in the past, I’ve had some major problems. I’ve had screws put into my feet, I’ve had multiple fractures and cracks, and it just ends up being games lost to a crummy injury.
Hockey shot-protection gear struggles to secure acceptance among NHL players
Edmonton Journal | Mar 28