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Injuries part of game ... but

Several Jets take risk in warm-up

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In the wake of a scary accident with the Edmonton Oilers in pre-game warm-up on Tuesday in Columbus -- refer to Taylor Hall's new face map -- there were still 10 players on the ice Thursday night at the MTS Centre who didn't wear their helmets prior to the game.

Andrew Ladd, Nik Antropov, Tanner Glass, Ron Hainsey, Randy Jones, Jim Slater, Toby Enstrom and Mark Stuart went bare-headed for the Jets in the warm-up, while Derek Roy and Jochen Hecht went without helmets for the Buffalo Sabres.

The matter of helmets all the time can be made a team rule in the NHL, as apparently the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs did this week.

The Jets, specifically GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, have consulted with their players and have come to a decision not to enforce such a rule, though Cheveldayoff said he reserves the right to change his mind.

"At the beginning of the year, long before this happened, we talked to the players about this and expressed our desire for them to wear helmets," Cheveldayoff said Thursday. "I talked to the leaders again yesterday on the plane and reiterated that, told them at some point we may make that decision. There are some discussions. We had a good, frank discussion with each other.

"There are lots of things that are imperfect about the game, helmets, visors. Sometimes you have to put personal things aside and see where it goes.

"And I've talked to some of my other colleagues in the league and they haven't even had a conversation about it, since this or prior to this."

-- -- --

Jets right-winger Blake Wheeler rejoined his teammates for full duty against Buffalo after missing two games for precautionary reasons and said he was very lucky to escape last Saturday's shot to the neck without any real damage.

"It could have been way worse. ... The doctors were being cautious. It's kind of a sensitive area. Now I'm 100 per cent and ready to go."

Wheeler recalls the play clearly.

"The slapshot (from New Jersey's Petr Sykora) from the top of the circles got away from him," Wheeler said. "If it didn't hit me in the neck, it was going to hit somebody in the upper deck. It was a bang-bang play and I think I was able to react just quick enough to turn my head a little.

"It just missed the jugular. It hit the one spot where it was I guess was the only good spot it could hit."

Is there anything he'll add to his gear for prevention?

"I don't know what else you can really do except duck next time," he said. "I've played a lot of hockey. That's the first time I've been hit in the neck."

-- -- --

Defenceman Zach Bogosian, out with a lower-body injury since a week ago Tuesday in Boston, missed his fifth straight game last night but may be ready to go soon.

"I want to make sure it's good before I come back," Bogosian said after the morning skate. "It's feeling better. But it's still day-to-day. Should be soon. I've had a good skate the last two days.

"Skating's a big part of my game, so any time that's (limited) little bit I'm not as effective. I'm making sure it's taking the time to heal."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 20, 2012 C2

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