ESPN

A Scar is Born

Hockey etches itself on its players, whose marks are a roadmap to their careers. They reflect on what it means to wear a scar.
As told to David Fleming
04/12/17
Matt Calvert
Blue Jackets Left Winger
Injury: Nick Holden slap shot to the eyebrow in a 4-2 win over the Rangers, Nov. 18
Damage: 36 stitches
Time Missed: Returned to score winning goal

"There was no warning. None. As a winger, it's my job to get in shot lanes and block shots. Out where I was, waist-high is pretty standard for a slap shot and you almost never see a puck rise that fast. The people who were there tell me the sound the puck made is what they remember, the impact of it. I don't remember hearing anything. One second I was moving into the lane, the next second I was down on the ice. I moved my helmet just a little and, blood. Not a drop or two. A straight line, pouring blood. I've had cuts and stitches before and you dab at it and see a little blood and go, oh, I guess I'm cut. But I've seen very few cuts where that much blood came out that fast. It was crazy.

"By then, our head athletic trainer was there and he gave me a towel and said, 'You've got quite a gash on your forehead, put the towel on it and don't take it off.' For me, the only big fear was my eye. I mean, another inch down and it could have been, would have been, my eye. Our trainer urged me to stay down longer, but you know it's ingrained in us from day one in hockey that you never lay down on the ice unless you absolutely have to...

Click here to read Matt's full, behind-the-scenes story of this scar.

Adam McQuaid
Bruins Defenseman
Injury: David Backes' skate blade to the neck in a 3-2 win over the Devils, March 4
Damage: 25 stitches
Time Missed: None (end of game)

"I remember exactly the first time I got cut. In juniors, we were playing the Mississauga IceDogs and I poked the puck away, but the guy's stick rode up my stick and hit me right in the mouth. I was getting stitched up and was kind of thinking, 'I can't believe this just happened, I'm going to have this mark on my lip for the rest of my life.' My coach at the time, Mike Foligno, who played a long time in the NHL, put it in very different terms for me. He said, 'Well, if you're lucky enough to keep playing this game, this won't be the last time you get cut.'

"He was right. Hockey players are synonymous with scars and battle wounds. And if you play long enough you can go through each mark and vividly remember how each one happened. You look in the mirror and you see the scar and it's a reminder of past experiences, where you've been, where you've gotten to and how you did it. I mean, just look at this one side of my face. Especially guys who worked their way up through juniors and the minors, every step of the way, each point of your career, leaves its own mark on you. The scars end up being a symbol of the sacrifices and the efforts you made along the way to get where you're at now...

Click here to read Adam's full, behind-the-scenes story of this scar.

Casey Cizikas
Islanders Center
Injury: Anders Lee's skate blade to the wrist in a 4-2 loss to the Capitals, Dec. 13
Damage: 8 stitches
Time Missed: Returned in the same period

"My wrist looked like a skinned animal. That's gross, I know, but honestly that's the only way I know how to describe it. We have two razor-sharp knifes on our feet moving around at top speed on ice, and this is what happens when you get stepped on by one: Basically my wrist looked like when you skin an animal after a hunt and there's that last little thin layer of fascia still holding everything inside and as soon as you cut that everything spills out.

"I didn't even feel it, that's the weirdest part. Didn't even feel the skate cut me. I got tripped up along the boards and as I'm sliding and guys are coming in on top of me, all I'm thinking about is reaching out and poking the puck and getting it to an open area where one of my guys might be skating and could make a play with it. In the middle of that, all I felt was the pressure and the weight of a skate come down on me. And I knew. It's a bad feeling. We know how sharp the skates are better than anyone. I looked down and all I saw was red and the blood already running down into my hand...

Click here to read Casey's full, behind-the-scenes story of this scar.

Brayden Point
Lightning Center
Injury: Cut above the lip by his own visor in a 3-0 victory over the Flyers, Nov. 19
Damage: 30 stitches
Time Missed: Returned to the game

"When you talk about hockey scars and what they mean in this sport, the first person that comes to mind is my dad. He's got a few nicks on his face. He oversees a paving company now, but he played juniors in Calgary and he played in the Heritage League. He's got all those little scars all around his lips that most older guys have and he got in a fight once and got cut pretty good over his eyebrow. I was too young to remember that and his scars have faded but any hockey guy who has cuts will be able to tell you the stories behind each mark, exactly when and how they happened. It's part of the game. They're badges of honor. It's cool to have these stories and I guess I have mine now. Mine wasn't glorious, or anything as cool as blocking a shot or getting in a fight, but it is kind of cool that it happened when my dad was with me, on the very first game of our team 'Fathers Trip' when all the dads travel with us.

"I'm not sure if this scar makes me feel official because it's my first in the NHL, but it was definitely the biggest cut I ever had and it taught me pretty quick about the speed of the game in the NHL and the seriousness of the impacts you face on this level. It still makes me think, reminds me of that. It was such a minor kind of play that it happened on, so it's like, well, don't forget you're playing against bigger, stronger guys who are going to hit you a little bit harder...

Click here to read Brayden's full, behind-the-scenes story of this scar.

Brady Skjei
Rangers Defenseman
Injury: Teammate Kevin Hayes' skate blade to the chin in a 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks, Dec. 13
Damage: 24 stitches
Time Missed: Returned to the game

"This was my first major cut. It came during a whirlwind-type week for me, a big welcome-to-the-NHL type week. I had just gotten my first NHL goal, something I had dreamed of my whole life and then the very next game I take a skate to the face and I guess that's what really officially welcomes you to the league, getting a scar like this. When it happens to you for the first time, it's crazy and it's gory, but I'm not going to lie, getting kicked in the face by a skate is a little bit frightening, too.

"Kevin Hayes was on the Blackhawks' Marian Hossa really tight and when Hossa made a cutback his butt kicked Kevin's leg back. The whole thing was a fluky situation. Nothing has ever happened like that to me in my entire hockey career, with a skate coming up that high. It felt like a punch to the chin, hit me so hard my mouth piece popped out. I skated off trying to hold my chin together and keep the blood from going everywhere. It looked like the skate had gone all the way through, like someone had cut a second pair of lips into the side of my face. It was nasty. It looked insane. It sets you back a little bit. When I sent my mom pictures of the cut, I definitely made sure to send her the 'after' picture, with my face all stitched up, first...

Click here to read Brady's full, behind-the-scenes story of this scar.

More Stories