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Playing In Pain

from Stu Hackel of Sports Illustrated,

Andrew Ference, the stalwart Bruins defenseman, returned to Boston's lineup for the conference championship round against the Penguins after an unspecified foot injury had kept him out of the lineup since Game 6 of the B's first round series against the Maple Leafs. It was uncertain if he'd be back at all because he'd been seen navigating the Bruins' practice facility with a walking boot on his left foot. In fact, he's still wearing that boot when he's not playing. Whatever he's got going on, he forgets about it when it's time to lace up his skates and he's resumed being a big part of his team's blueline corps. Ference is plus-4 after Boston's first two games against Pittsburgh.

This is a common story in hockey, one that constantly amazes the athletes and fans of other sports. Hockey players don't let much stop them at any time of the season, but during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, their pain threshold -- likely aided by some serious medication -- can elevate beyond bravery to something bordering on absurdity.

A typical tale is that of Ryane Clowe when he was a member of the San Jose Sharks in 2011. He separated his shoulder in the second round against Detroit and missed only one game, returning for Game 7 of that series and the Sharks' five-game loss to Vancouver. He needed help pulling on his sweater and a trainer had to tie his skates. "The toughest part was starting the game, but once the adrenaline got going, you start to think about other things," Clowe said.

continued with many more players mentioned...

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Paul's avatar

Whenever this topic is brought up, I think of Brent Gilchrist.

Hockey players have their signature moments: a shot, a save, a fight. Around the Detroit locker room, the signature moment for Gilchrist was not a play, it was a noise: a chilling howl of pain when doctors put a needle in his groin before playoff games.

“Never heard anything like it,” players would whisper, shaking their heads.
“Man, he’s got guts.”

more from Mitch Albom…

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 06/04/13 at 07:13 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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