The late-season injuries are piling up once again in Nashville as the Predators' leading scorer, Steve Sullivan, was injured during this morning's pre-game skate when a slapshot from Shea Weber decapitated him. Sullivan is expected to miss tonight's game against the St. Louis Blues.
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Reports from sources who insisted on anonymity claim the shot came as Sully was crossing in front of the net, and that the force of the puck knocked his head clean off, over the glass, and up about 15 rows into the Bridgestone Arena's lower bowl.
Fortunately, Sullivan's chin strap was adjusted properly (not as loose as in the picture above), allowing his hockey helmet to protect his head from further injury, as it bounced down the steps before being retrieved by arena staff.
Sullivan's recovery time uncertain
Practice was interrupted as team doctor Rip Loafol worked feverishly to re-attach Sullivan's head. A blood-spattered, visibly shaken Barry Trotz could only say afterward that Sullivan was "day-to-day with an upper body injury," but new Predator Dustin Boyd, who was acquired at the Trade Deadline from Calgary, was more outspoken, and refused to return even after two Zambonis shaved and resurfaced the ice to help clear away the mess.
"You expect me to go out there and practice tipping shots when that guy's launching missiles back there? Forget about it," he said. "Shea may well be an All-World defenseman, but at the same time he's a menace, especially to his own teammates."
Weber does have a history of wreaking havoc with his slap shot, which is among the hardest in the NHL. Earlier this season, he broke Jordin Tootoo's foot, causing the winger to miss 17 games. Last spring, during a game in Detroit he broke Martin Erat's leg with a shot, and another deflected shot in practice broke several bones in David Legwand's face.
At the 2009 NHL All-Star Weekend, Weber launched the 3rd-fastest slap shot ever recorded at that event. Most recently, during the Winter Olympics, Weber scored a goal against Germany when his shot blew right through the netting.