Hockey players are legendarily tough, but Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid may be one of the toughest in the NHL right now.
On Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils, the 30-year-old veteran suffered a scary injury that could have been fatal under different circumstances.
McQuaid and teammate David Backes were battling a pair of Devils for possession of the puck when Backes lost his balance.
In the video below, Backes's skate comes up, catching McQuaid in his face/neck area, leaving a sizable gash that forced McQuaid to seek some medical attention after he returned to the bench:
McQuaid received nearly 25 stitches to close the wound, but is expected to make a full recovery in the near future.
In fact, despite the nasty injury, McQuaid won't miss any games, as he is expected to take the ice on Monday against the Ottawa Senators.
McQuaid downplayed the severity of the injury to ESPN.com, saying was simply focused on finishing his shift without hurting the team:
"Initially, when I didn't see any blood, I figured that I was OK," McQuaid said. "They didn't blow the whistle, and [play] was still going on in an obviously important part of the game. I was pretty helpless without my stick, but I was just trying to be a body getting in the way."
"I don't think many guys saw it on the ice," added McQuaid, whose stitches resemble a zipper running halfway across the right side of his neck. "Once I got to the bench, Colin Miller at first was like, 'Oh, you're OK.' Then, 'No, actually, you're cut. You might want to have it looked at.' "
To help ease McQuaid's pain, the Bruins won 3-2 on Saturday night, so at least he wasn't injured in a loss. Monday night's game will provide an important test for his Bruins, though, as Boston (currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference with 74 points) trails the Senators by two points. A win in regulation would bring the Bruins even with the Canadian squad and move them to within striking distance of fifth-place Montreal Canadiens, who have 82 points.
For the season, McQuaid has a total of eight points (two goals and six assists) from his defensive position. In his eight-year career, he's amassed 60 points (12 goals and 48 assists).
Though he'll be sporting some nasty-looking stitches in Monday night's game, it's impressive that McQuaid will even be on the ice at all. It takes a lot to keep hockey players out of a game, and McQuaid will prove that he belongs among the league's toughest athletes.