With a nasty, five-inch scar along the inside of his left knee and still walking with a limp, Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf spoke with the media for the first time today since he suffered a deep skate cut in a game two weeks ago.
Senators winger Peter Regin's skate narrowly missed a major artery in Phaneuf's leg, leading to 2.5 hours of surgery, several days in hospital and a four-to-six week recovery that has hit some bumps along the way.
"As soon as the skate hit me, I knew," Phaneuf said. "I could feel it. I knew I was cut for one thing, I could feel something a little deeper, that's why I didn't get up right away, I didn't want to do anymore damage to it, I knew I needed help to get off.
"When you pull your pant leg up and you can see inside your leg, it's not a very good feeling. I knew I had to get off as quick as possible."
Phaneuf called out immediately to referee Bill McCreary for help off the ice, but the official didn't realize how serious an injury it was.
Phaneuf said he feels he was "very lucky" given how close the cut came to slicing an artery.
"It cut me right through to the bone," he said. "It was a deep cut. It nicked my MCL. But with saying that [the recovery]is no different than a little tweak to your MCL, it's just a little cut [to the ligament]"
After being placed on a stretcher and taken to hospital, he had no idea how long of a recovery he was in for. Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa has suffered two serious skate lacerations to his ankles in the past few years and missed 47 games one season.
"When you're sitting there on the trainer table and the orthopaedic surgeon says 'we've got to go to the OR,' you're definitely wondering [if your season's in jeopardy]" Phaneuf said. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't. But they said right from the get go they couldn't tell how bad it was. They had to go to the OR to see the extent of it."
Because of a serious allergic reaction to some of the antibiotics he was taking, Phaneuf also suffered a setback the day after he was released from hospital and had to go back in that first weekend.
The reaction has made much of the skin peel off Phaneuf's legs the past week and a half. He said he once had a similar reaction as a child but that the doctors hadn't expected it to resurface.
"I had a bad allergic reaction that carried over into a full-body sickness through the drugs," he said. "That was tough in itself. I broke out in a bad rash, a lot of swelling ... it was very painful. It felt like bruises actually. It was definitely something that wasn't a lot of fun to deal with."
After suffering two cuts to his legs already this season (including one minor one near the start of the year), he is now looking into wearing a different type of hockey pant that has more protection. He didn't sound interested in trying out Kevlar-reinforced socks, which are being used more by NHL players these days.
Phaneuf added that he isn't certain when he will be back on skates.
"To be honest with you, it's one day at a time right now," Phaneuf said. "I can't really give a timeline. They told me four to six weeks [two weeks ago] and if it's four weeks, that's great.
"I'm going to try and get back as quick as I can that's for sure, but I haven't heard anything different [about the prognosis]up to this point."
Giguere out up to two weeks
Netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere will be out one to two weeks with a groin issue that caused him to leave Tuesday's win over the Predators in the third period. Toronto recalled James Reimer from the minors.
Jonas Gustavsson will start against New Jersey tomorrow. Martin Brodeur will play for the Devils.
Leafs defenceman Francois Beauchemin and centre Tim Brent also missed practice today, but coach Ron Wilson said both were simply recovering from minor bumps and bruises and are expected to play.