Koivu, Wild teammates go from scared to relieved

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 21, 2011 - 11:59 PM

A skate clipped the Wild captain's chin but caused no serious damage. He is expected to return Saturday.

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Wild captain Mikko Koivu took a bad one one on the chin when he was clipped by a high skate Thursday in Edmonton.

Photo: John Ulan, Associated Press

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VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Mikko Koivu knows how lucky he was.

He has seen the terrifying video of Clint Malarchuk and Richard Zednik getting slashed across the neck by skate blades, heard the stories of Richard Shulmistra and Brent Sutter.

Skate blades to the head and neck area "is not something to joke about," the Wild captain said Friday -- one day after being clipped across the chin and neck by teammate Dany Heatley's skate in the third period in Edmonton.

Luckily for Koivu, his chin -- not his neck -- took the brunt of the trauma, and "it's just stitches. It will heal."

Teammates were relieved, having no clue how serious Koivu's injury was as they put together a last-second rally to beat Edmonton.

"You see the skates come up, that's about as scary as it gets in our game," center Matt Cullen said.

Koivu missed Friday's practice and is listed as questionable for Saturday's game against the Vancouver Canucks. Koivu declined to answer whether he would play, but teammates expect him to, and coach Mike Yeo said he "hopes" he will.

The big question is whether Koivu will be able to wear a full shield to protect his sore chin and neck.

"It's a pretty nasty cut, and [a cage] would be resting on the chin," Yeo said.

Koivu was injured 8:17 into the third after Heatley's skate flew up after he was upended by Shawn Horcoff.

"I knew it was a skate that hit me, and when you feel some blood and you don't know where it hits, it was a little bit scary," Koivu said. "I didn't know it was that bad. I felt the blood and felt it was probably better to go off."

Actually, Koivu kept playing for a few seconds.

"It didn't faze him until the puck was gone and he couldn't influence the play anymore," Yeo said, laughing.

Koivu went to the locker room, where he said Oilers doctors did a tremendous job, quickly assessing that he was in no serious peril.

"It's a serious injury. Anything can happen, like we know from the past," Koivu said, referring to incidents like those that happened to Malarchuk and Zednik -- both in Buffalo.

Koivu didn't sound as if he will consider neck protection, saying: "It's a sport that accidents will happen, so I just want to move on and play the way I always play the game. You don't want to see anyone get hurt. But like we all saw, it's just a bad accident."

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