Wild defenseman Nick Seeler has been sporting a gap in his smile ever since his left front tooth was taken out earlier this month by a high stick from the Ducks’ Patrick Eaves.
But when he has some down time, Seeler plans to fill in the space with a replacement — the second time that has happened to the 25-year-old, as the tooth he lost was a fake from when he had the original knocked out a few years ago.
“The post is still in there,” Seeler said. “So all they have to do is make a new tooth, and then they can put another one in.”
While gummy grins have long been synonymous with hockey — Bobby Clarke’s smile with the Stanley Cup sans his front teeth when the Philadelphia Flyers won in 1974 might be one of the game’s most iconic images — they seem to be less trendy among today’s set since few are embracing the sport’s stereotypical uniform.
“I consider myself [on the] old school side of things,” center Eric Staal said. “But teeth in my mouth — I prefer that look.”
Although players may not be eager to have holes in their mouths, losing a tooth — “spitting Chiclets” — is a common hazard of the job.
Center Eric Fehr had the bottom half of a front tooth knocked out, and winger Marcus Foligno had three casualties on his top row; forward Charlie Coyle had four chipped.
All have been repaired, with Coyle even rushing to the dentist a few years ago before a flight after a high stick caught him in practice.
“If you really look at my teeth,” he said, “you can almost see through my real ones.”
Players are advised to wait until the end of their careers for permanent substitutes, an approach that might help explain why the likes of Brent Burns from the San Jose Sharks and Drew Doughty on the Los Angeles Kings have kept their openings. But many still get patched up in the meantime and even though they want to avoid the dental work, not everyone takes precaution by wearing a mouthguard.
Fehr doesn’t; neither does Staal, who has lost only one of his front teeth.
“I yell all the game,” he said. “It’s hard for you to understand me when I have a mouthguard in.”
Rookie Jordan Greenway also isn’t biting down on a mouthguard during games.
He has yet to sacrifice a tooth to hockey, a club whose membership doesn’t appear very enticing.
“I don’t know if it’s just because I’m a younger generation, but there’s no medal of honor for that,” he said. “I’d like to keep my front two.”
Back to work
Foligno had to be helped off the ice Sunday in the 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks after he blocked a shot on the outside of his right leg, but he was back in the lineup Wednesday.
“I didn’t really have much feeling in the leg,” said Foligno, who left the game after getting in front of a windup from Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook during the third period. “I hit a nerve, so it kind of makes your leg go dead. That was our biggest concern; I just didn’t feel anything. So I thought the worst, so I just stayed down. It was obviously too sore to get going. Right now, it’s a lot better. It’s not great, but it’s good enough to play. I feel confident on it. At the end of the day, it’s just a really bad bruise and something you can play through.”
• Wild prospect Kaapo Kahkonen is the reigning American Hockey League Player of the Week after posting back-to-back shutouts last week.
Kahkonen stopped all 58 shots he faced, following up a 20-save win against Milwaukee last Wednesday with 38 stops Friday in another win over the Admirals. He hasn’t allowed a goal in his last 207 minutes, 55 seconds of play — a franchise record for Iowa.
• In a trade of ECHL players, the Wild sent forward Pavel Jenys to the Kings for defenseman Stepan Falkovsky.
Falkovsky, 21, has three goals and three assists in 14 games with Manchester.