Hockey isn’t a game for the sensitive type. Between insane body checks, high sticking and even fistfights, the sport lends itself to serious injuries more than most. The silver lining here is that this unforgiving sport has paved the way for some of the most epic injury comebacks in all of sports. Take a look at these players who earned immortality by playing through the pain:
Hockey fans from the Motor City will be hearing about Yzerman long after he’s gone. A true soldier of hockey, Yzerman played the vast majority of the 2002 season with a crippling knee injury. The cartilage was worn down in Yzerman’s knee to such a point that his bones were rubbing together. Still, he received cortisone shots before each game and played on to lead the ’02 Red Wings to Stanley Cup glory.
Many people say that Lemieux could have been as good as Wayne Gretzky had injuries not forced him into several absences and, ultimately, retirement. Throughout the course of his pro career, Lemieux had multiple back surgeries, a spinal hernia and several cases of tendonitis in his hips. In 1997, a lymphoma diagnosis forced him out of hockey, causing many to think his career was over. Nonetheless, Lemieux came back with an emotional vengeance in 2002, posting 76 points that season.
Zednik was on the wrong end of what may be the most gruesome NHL injury ever: his external carotid artery was severed by a teammate during a game. Unbelievably, he survived through emergency surgery and blood transfusions, returning to hockey the next season as strong as ever.