The National Hockey League is the best ice hockey league in the world. Consisting of 7 teams from Canada and 23 teams from the United States, all 30 teams battle it out each year for the most coveted trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup. The league began in 1917 in Canada and the "Nation" referred to in NHL was Canada, though since 1924 the league has been a two-nation affair.
The NHL attracts players from around the globe, with the greatest population coming from Canada, the United States and Europe. People from all over the world love to watch NHL games since they are some of the most intense, fast-paced, and entertaining sporting events available.
Every sport or profession has its own challenges, but what make them all worth it are the successes along the way. The NHL is one of the most successful leagues in North America and the world, and it has produced great teams and players known the world over. In Canada hockey is the most popular sport, while in the United States it follows Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Basketball Association.
The NHL has faced many problems over the years, including player lockouts, strikes, and serious injuries. The injuries on the ice usually get very ugly, with most of them threatening the careers of the players involved. The sharp skating blades, the hockey sticks, the hard ice, and the high speeds with limited friction sure sound like a recipe for a serious injury, though having professional players on the hockey rink makes a lot of difference. Here are the most shocking on-ice injuries that have almost ended careers in the NHL.
10 Zach Redmond Sliced Leg
Zach Redmond is a defenseman currently playing for the Colorado Avalanche, and his injury is proof that players don't only risk getting injured during actual games. During a practice session in preparation for a game against the Carolina Hurricanes in February 2013 (he was playing for the Winnipeg Jets at the time), Zach fell on the ice and a teammate unintentionally cut his femoral vein and artery when he skated over his thigh. His teammates, training staff and coaches helped him to slow down the bleeding until the arrival of the paramedics, who took him to the hospital. Zack went through surgery and a six-week recovery period and is now back on the ice playing for his team again.
9 Kevin Klein Blocks Shot With His Arm
Kevin Klein is a defenseman for the New York Rangers and a valuable player on the team, leading the Rangers defense with 9 goals and 26 points before going down with an injury. In a game in March 2015 against the Washington Capitals, Klein was struck on the left arm by a shot from Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin just before the end of the game. The injury that Klein sustained will leave him out for the rest of the season. The injury comes at a bad time because by the end of the game the New York Rangers had the best record in the NHL. Klein is a tough customer; in December of 2014 Klein scored an overtime winner against Pittsburgh after losing a chunk of his ear earlier in the game!
8 Steven Stamkos Broken leg
Steven Stamkos is the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning and one of the greatest scorers in the NHL. This horrific injury came during a game against the Boston Bruins in 2014, when Stamkos was backchecking and collided full speed with the goal post. This injury was hard to watch because Stamkos tried to get up only to fall down, writhing in pain as he realized his leg was broken. Stamkos had to sit out the rest of the season and the Lightning made an early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.
7 Stephane Robidas Broken Leg
Stephane Robidas a defenseman is currently playing for the bottom-feeding Toronto Maple Leafs. In the 2013 season Robidas was playing for the Dallas Stars and suffered a serious leg fracture in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. After attempting to block a pass Robidas slid into the boards with so much force and at such an awkward angle that he ended up breaking his right leg. Robidas was sidelined for a few months and upon full recovery he was traded to Toronto.
6 Erik Karlsson Sliced Achilles Tendon
Captain of the Ottawa Senators, Erik Karlsson is not only one of the key players on his team, but one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Towards the end of the second period in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in February 2013, Karlsson was pinned on the boards and in the process got 70% of his Achilles sliced by the blade under Matt Cooke's skate. The pain he went through was unbearable, and the injury cost him approximately 31 games over a period of 10 weeks. This injury was a reminder to all the players to be wearing cut-proof socks since a laceration like that could spell the end of a career.
5 Max Pacioretty Broken Vertebrae
Max Pacioretty and the entire Montreal Canadiens organization had a big scare in a game against the Boston Bruins in 2011. Max was hit by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and collided with the stanchion that separates benches. The hit left him motionless on the ice, the result of a severe concussion and a 4th cervical vertebra fracture. He was taken off on a stretcher and had to miss the rest of the season. Thankfully Pacioretty returned to the ice better than ever and has consistently lead the Habs' offense in terms of scoring.
4 Greg Campbell Broken Leg
Gregory Campbell comes from a hockey family. His father Colin Campbell used to play in the NHL and he is currently the league's Director of Hockey Operations. Greg was involved in a scary injury during a 2013 regular season game when his Boston Bruins took on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Campbell fractured his right leg blocking a shot from Evgeni Malkin. Amazingly the play didn't stop and Campbell had to wait almost a full minute to get off the ice, hobbling around on one leg, still trying to kill the team's penalty. This injury cost him the rest of the season though he was back in good form the following year.
3 Nicklas Lidstrom Testicular Surgery
Nicklas Lidstrom recently retired from professional hockey as one of the most storied defensemen in NHL history. Along with his legacy as a player, Lidstrom suffered one of the most shocking injuries in the history of the NHL, in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals in 2009. Lidstrom was speared by Patrick Sharp in his testicles during the game, but he did not go to the hospital immediately, choosing to even show up for practice the next day. The gruesome pain that followed two days after the accident forced him to go to the hospital with doctors not knowing whether they could save his testicles. However, after surgery Lidstrom would wait a week before he could get back to his game.
2 Marc Staal - Fractured Orbital Bone
New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal suffered one of the scariest injuries in the 2013 NHL season when a deflected shot struck him in the eye resulting in a fractured orbital bone. This could have very well marked the end of the use of his injured eye, spelling the end of his NHL career, but he was to recover fully a few months later thanks to expert medical care. This injury was so bad that the NHL players association supported the motion for all incoming players to wear eye protection.
1 Joni Pitkanen Broken Heel
Defenseman Joni Pitkanen is from Finland and began playing in the NHL in 2002 with the Philadelphia Fliers. Joni was one of the best players during his time in any of the teams he played for, until the day he suffered a career threatening injury. During the 2012-2013 season, Pitkanen was racing with Troy Brouwer for an icing call, and unable to stop in time he went crashing into the boards and broke his calcaneus (heel) bone. This accident was so bad that he had to sit out of the entire 2013 and 2014 seasons, and thereafter become an unrestricted free agent. He is still recovering from that injury. The NHL has since changed their icing rules to avoid similar injuries occurring.