NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gruesome injury puts Kevlar socks front and centre

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GRUESOME cuts like the one that ended Ottawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson's season are not new to hockey or any sport played on skates.

But when a Norris Trophy winner goes down after his Achilles tendon is nearly severed in half, it makes players around the NHL wonder if they should start wearing cut-proof socks and other equipment that may prevent such scary injuries.

The Karlsson injury was the talk of the league Thursday after his left Achilles tendon was cut by a skate blade during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night.

Many players are already wearing cut-proof Kevlar socks, but a lot have never tried them or don't like them. Several high-profile NHL players have missed significant time due to skate cuts.

Defencemen Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks and Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens both have had their legs sliced open by razor-sharp skates in recent seasons. Anaheim Ducks scoring star Teemu Selanne has had two major cuts in his career and now wears Kevlar socks and wrist guards.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk in 1989 and Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik in 2008 nearly died when arteries in their throats were slashed by errant skates.

Karlsson was retrieving the puck in a corner when Matt Cooke's skate sliced into the back of his left leg just above the boot of his skate. Karlsson was not wearing cut-proof socks.

NHL vice-president Kris King, whose duties include player safety, said the league has not looked at making cut-proof socks mandatory, but has been encouraging teams to promote them to their players.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 15, 2013 C7

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