Though it has become a major arguing point in the great "NHL needs more scoring" debate, blocking shots is still very much a part of the game. Every team does it and the players that do it on the regular are as tough as they come. They are constantly putting themselves at risk of injury and almost certainly require ice bags after every game regardless.
Then there's what happened to Daniel Winnik of the Washington Capitals Thursday night. It's the kind of thing that makes you wonder why these guys ever drop to the ice as their opponent winds up.
In the third period of Washington's game against the Florida Panthers, Winnik got in front of Panthers forward Reilly Smith who was winding up for a slap shot. The veteran Caps forward laid out. He turned his head and the puck came right off of Smith's stick and hit Winnik right in the ear hole of the helmet.
Winnik laid on the ice for a short bit as he received some medical attention. But he got up, scurried over to the locker room and actually returned to the game.
After it was over, Capitals coach Barry Trotz gave the gruesome update on what happened to Winnik.
Barry Trotz said Daniel Winnik lost a little piece of his ear when the puck hit him in the head. Seriously.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) October 21, 2016
So Winnik left it all on the ice and then some.
Again, he still came back and finished the game and otherwise seems fine aside from from mangled ear. There haven't been any good pictures of the injury, so this will have to suffice.
Someone commissioned a painting of Winnik this morning. Who did this?!?! 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/CXCGWV4BYv— CAPITALS HILL (@CapitalsHill) October 21, 2016
Winnik's wife Taylor provided an update on the Capitals forward's status Friday morning:
For everybody who's asking, Dan is doing well and we are fortunate there was no serious injury 🙂— Taylor Winnik (@taytayruness) October 21, 2016
In all seriousness, that shot block could have ended a lot worse. Not that losing a piece of an ear isn't significant, of course. Had the puck struck him square in the head or neck, which it was mere inches away from doing, this could have been a much different story.
Despite the dangers, which we now know includes the possibility of losing some of your ear, the players are going to keep laying out for blocks all season long.