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Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler made his return to the lineup on Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Wheeler had been out of commission since the team’s Dec. 15 game against the Nashville Predators.
The reason? A ruptured testicle.
There’s not a man alive who didn’t just wince at that.
It happened thanks to a shot from teammate Josh Morrisey, a man who probably owes Wheeler a steak dinner as a peace offering.
What’s even crazier is that Wheeler stayed in the game until the end.
Blake Wheeler has probably never wanted a game to end sooner than that one against the Preds, but guess what? It went to overtime. At least, for his sake, the Jets won 2-1.
Wheeler talked about the injury last week, and he told reporters that part of the reason he was able to stay in the game was that he didn’t realize he was injured.
He just knew he was hurting. Bad.
“Well, there’s a difference between being hurt and being injured. I didn’t know I was injured until the next day,” he told reporters this week.
Blake Wheeler Proved Himself To Be The Ultimate Hockey Guy
I’m not sure many people would question Blake Wheeler’s Hockey Guy-ness, but on the off chance they would, this incident puts any doubts to rest.
It’s not like Wheeler suffered an injury like that and stayed in the game during the playoffs either. This was a regular-season game in the middle of December. Although the Jets are in a battle with the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division.
Hockey players are just built differently. That’s a season-ending injury in any other sport. I mean just think about what basketball and soccer players have been sidelined with.
Blake Wheeler suffered a brutal injury to the part of the body all men spend most of their lives protecting from harm. When it happened, he didn’t think “I need to go to a hospital, pronto.”
No, his mind was on getting two points against the Nashville Predators… Although, the severe pain in his testicles had to have been present too.
The NHL doesn’t give a Hockey Guy of the Year award (they should though). If they did, there’s no doubt in my mind that it would go to Wheeler.
The other nominees would only show up because it would mean a weekend out at the NHL Awards in Nashville later this year. They’d know full well that Blake Wheeler would be headed home with this hypothetical hardware.
Great to hear Blake is back in the lineup, but let this be a reminder to everyone out there to protect yourself down there.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle