Marcos Foligno suffered a knee injury that forced him off the ice in the regular season final at Wild on Friday. The alternate captain feared the worst after losing sensation in his knee accompanied by a tingling sensation down his leg.
Back on the ice less than 48 hours after testing his leg in practice, Foligno announced he was ready to play Monday night in the first game of the first round against the St. Louis Blues.
No one should be surprised.
“It’s the playoffs,” he said. “This is my biggest answer. I’d feel wrong if I sat outside.”
Foligno wears the hockey version of the Medal of Honor. The NHL playoffs are a testament to a player’s ability and willingness to endure diseased and sometimes broken body parts in pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
Qualifiers are a hard exercise in which players grow beards, lose their teeth, and hit their bodies like a punching bag. The lucky ones are those who don’t need surgery once the trip is over.
“It’s worth it,” says former Wilde winger Ryan Carter, who played in 46 post-season games between three organizations. “There is painful play and injured play. In the playoffs, this moves more towards your acceptance of playing injured.”
Teams do not usually discuss injuries during playoffs, other than referring to a player injury to the upper body or injury to the lower body. Behind the scenes, players dig deep to get ready to play the next game.
“It’s fun, isn’t it?” Wilde coach Dean Evason said. “You want to feel the pain and the bumps and bruises. It means you did what you were supposed to.”
cheerful? Yes, hockey players are a little different.
Wilde’s former defensive back Willie Mitchell suffered a broken cheekbone and a torn wrist ligament during the impressive 2003 qualifying round. Keep playing.
“Hockey players are known to be strong,” Mitchell told me in 2020. “I would say hockey players are also stupid sometimes. That was for me. Hard and stupid.”
He only missed a few bouts after a skewed disc hit him in the face in Game 7 of the Colorado series. The surgery left him the next morning with 56 stitches on the side of his head. Mitchell had his helmet modified so he could play against Vancouver in the next series.
Mitchell said a hit by Vancouver’s Todd Bertozzi along the boards in Game 4 “directly ripped my tie,” leaving him unable to dress himself, pass or shoot without excruciating pain during morning skiing before Game 5.
“We never asked him if he was playing,” said teammate Wes Walz.
Shoulder injuries are so routine in hockey that players get hit in awkward positions, sometimes making dressing after matches difficult.
“That’s why you have teammates,” Walz joked.
Carter suffered a thigh injury after the season ended which had to be taped “tighter than a clay drum” in order to be able to skate. Every morning he would wake up and ask himself a question: Will I be able to do this?
He found a way.
He said, “I got through the game, and you’re like, ‘You made it. you succses. We live to play another day. “
Walz found the mental strength in qualifying would be quite taxing. He remembers his weight during the ’03 postseason. He initially weighed 187 pounds. When he jumped on the scales the morning of Game One against Anaheim in the Western Conference Final, he was surprised to see that he hit 178 pounds.
He said, “I was eating like a pig.”
His parents came to town for that series. His mother was worried when she saw his appearance.
“You look sick, are you okay?” She asked him.
Walz believes his weight loss is largely due to supplement stress.
The final award means that much.
“If you ever win the Stanley Cup in your life, it’s like you’ve won,” Walz said. “Unfortunately, I never had that opportunity.”
True, but this does not mean that he did not have a successful career.
“But I’ve never won a Stanley Cup,” Walz said. “Honestly, every year I watch the Stanley Cup get raised over players’ heads and every year I think about how amazing that is.”
This peak moment doesn’t happen without enduring a heavy dose of physical pain. Hockey players find happiness in it.