The Morning According to Us

"To the death? No. To the pain." Getty Images

Poor Dr. House. I always imagine the whiney, gravel-voiced doctor trying to diagnose an NHL player dragged off the ice and into the locker room during playoff season, trying desperately to determine the cause of pain, the source of the latest iunjury, and being shoved head first into the outré culture of playoff maladies.

"We'll need to address the wound," he'd say. And looking at the nine-inch gash across the player's forehead, you'd get the standard drip of House wine, "Uuunless you don't think anybody will notice."

Oh that sarcastic scoundrel, always laughing at our perpetual dance with death.

Of course, the plot is skewered here, because in hockey, the player would say, "Oh sure. Just put'a butterfly or two on der and I'll finish the game and we can deal wit'er later."

And back on the ice he goes.

Hockey playoff injuries are insane. For one, there are guys who routinely play with "ailments" that go far beyond the threshold of something you can reasonably bite the towel and deal with. You have cases where a guy like Steve Yzerman literally plays on one knee. Since every ligament in there is all torn anyway, and the cartilage is like fragments from a McNugget, one playoff season Yzerman just played, often sliding to one knee instead of bending over, and with the idea in mind that hey, the off-season is just a bad deflection away. After the playoffs, they didn't just operate on Stevie Y, they literally re-aligned the bones in his knee.

Secondly, there is the way an injury is listed. Yzerman's was "lower body." Trying to get the true source of pain for a player before an NHL playoff game is like trying to get a 30-minute tell-all chat with a Buckingham Palace Guard. A broken femur is at best listed as a "lower body injury." Tomorrow night Kris Draper will sit out the opener for the Red Wings against Columbus in what the Wings are officially calling an "upper body injury."

A bruised shoulder? The guy could be playing with one arm and that's all you'd get. Of course, this is a league where the combatants carry sticks around the ice. If a guy has a bad ankle and everybody knows it, you can be sure he'll get at least a handful of reminders during the game.

But that's the NHL Playoffs. It's no place for a doctor.

At least a good one.

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