Hockey is a physical game. When players move around quickly on skates, shoot frozen hunks of vulcanized rubber at speeds of more than 100 mph and use their bodies to check each other and block shots, injuries are inevitable.
While injuries are a part of the game, some incidents stand out as memorably gruesome in the annals of hockey history. There are memorable incidents of horrific injuries, unusual goings on and even an on-ice death.
So, to take our minds of the lockout and in the spirit of Halloween, here is a look at the 50 most gruesome injuries in hockey history. I didn't put these in any particular order because I felt it would be a bit macabre to rank a series of injuries and even deaths in order of gruesomeness.
Despite all of my research, I'm sure I have missed some incidents, so feel free to add some or comment on the ones I have here. Some of the photos and videos are not fitting for the faint of heart, and you may not want to view this right after you ate.
This devastating hit by Phoenix's Raffi Torres last spring ended Marian Hossa's season and earned the Coyotes winger a 25-game suspension (later reduced to 21 games).
Hossa suffered a concussion on the play.
Maple Leafs' defenseman Bob Baun was never known for scoring goals, but he is best remembered for this overtime tally in Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup Final, which helped Toronto win another Stanley Cup.
Baun broke his ankle during the third period and was removed from the ice on a stretcher. He managed to return in overtime and scored the game-winner.
On December 2, 1973, the "Broad Street Bullies" were at their fighting best (or worst).
Barry Cummins, a journeyman defenseman of the California Golden Seals, found out what happens to opposing players who dared lay a finger on Flyers captain Bobby Clarke.
Years later, Cummins recalled the incident in the book, Shorthanded: The Untold Story of the Seals, Hockey's Most Colorful Team.
"I got a stick in the eye (from Clarke)," Cummins remembered. "My eye bled and I couldn't see. I reacted. I picked up my stick and did the same thing."
The Flyers then ganged up on Cummins.
Winger Joey Johnston of California told Hockey Digest, "Bob Kelly went out with his stick and Dave Schultz and then the rest. Ed Van Impe was going around jabbing Cummins with his stick--spearing him. There's gotta be six guys pounding him while this was going on."
Quotes from the Flyers included Bob Kelly saying, "Cummins got what he deserved" and Bill Flett adding, "It's easy to kill somebody. I don't know who that goon was, but you can bet if he stays around, there will be a lot of people taking runs at him."
Clarke received 12 stitches from the incident. Cummins got three stitches, a $300 fine and a three-game suspension.
The Flyers won the game 5-1, but the ugliness of the incident lives on.
It was only a preseason game, but the violence was real. Wayne Maki of the St. Louis Blues and Boston's Ted Green got into a stick-swinging duel that ended with Green being struck in the head and falling to the ice.
Green fractured his skull and suffered brain damage. As a result, he missed the entire 1969-70 season and had to wear a helmet when he returned to the ice the following season.
Those who saw it said Maki's attack was one of the most violent in league history.
A hit from behind by Bruins defenseman Eddie Shore ended the career of Toronto's Ace Bailey and nearly ended his life.
On December 12, 1933, Shore hit Bailey after he was hit by Toronto's Red Horner. Bailey's skull was fractured, and he was rushed to the hospital, where he had emergency surgery which barely saved his life.
Although he survived, Bailey's hockey career was over.
The first NHL All-Star Game was a benefit to raise money for Bailey and his family. During that game, Shore and Bailey shook hands in touching moment that became a famous photo.
The NHL has suffered only one on-ice death in its history, and it took place on January 13, 1968, in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Bill Masterton of the Minnesota North Stars was hit by two members of the Oakland Seals on clean checks and hit his head hard on the ice.
Seals defenseman Tracy Pratt was on the ice during the incident.
"It was a funny type of play," Pratt recalled. "Ron Harris was backchecking and Masterton was on the left wing skating down our right side. I went to stand him up, Ronnie came from behind and Masterton's skates came up from under him and his head hit the ice. We were in awe. We saw some blood but the blood was thick and clotty...We were waiving our arms for the trainers and Masterton was not moving. He might have been convulsing. The doctors came out and took him off the ice."
Masterton slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. He died a few days later.
The league later created the Masterton Trophy in his honor.
(The footage of this particular incident is about 55 seconds into this video.)
On February 1, 1959, Leapin' Louie Fontinato of the Rangers made the mistake of fighting Gordie Howe of Detroit. Fontinato was considered one of the league's heavyweights at that time, but Howe got the best of this fight.
The result for Fontinato was a broken nose, a broken cheekbone and a dislocated jaw. In essence, his face had to be rebuilt.
On March 2, 1981, Charlie Simmer of the Los Angeles Kings suffered a painful injury in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Simmer was checked into the boards, and his leg was broken so badly it was on a horrible angle while he lay writhing in pain on the ice.
Simmer missed the rest of the season and the playoffs that year. He finished the season with 56 goals and 105 points in just 65 games.
On March 8, 2007, Chris Simon of the New York Islanders slashed Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers across the face in a game between these two intense rivals at the Nassau Coliseum.
Hollweg delivered a check to Simon on the play, which the big Isles forward took offense to. He skated over to Hollweg and took a baseball-like swing that hit the Rangers forward on the shoulder pads and in the face. Hollweg fell to the ice and required several stitches.
Simon was suspended for 25 games as a result of his actions.
On April 8, 1952, Maurice "The Rocket" Richard scored one of the most memorable goals in NHL history in a playoff game against the Boston Bruins.
Earlier in the game, Richard was checked hard and his head hit the ice. He suffered a concussion and was cut above the eye. Blood was dripping down his face. Remarkably, Richard returned to the game and scored the game-winning goal with a bandage over his eye.
There is a famous photo showing Richard shaking hands with Bruins goalie "Sugar" Jim Henry after the game was over. It appears approximately 50 seconds into the video on this page and shows what Richard looked like after his injury in this game.
On March 11, 2000, Leafs defenseman Bryan Berard was accidentally clipped in the eye by the stick of Ottawa's Marian Hossa.
Berard suffered a retinal tear and later a detached retina, and his hockey career was disrupted. Seven eye surgeries followed. Berard missed the rest of the 1999-2000 season and was forced to miss all of the following year because his vision was limited.
In 2001-02, Berard returned to action with the New York Rangers and was able to play six more seasons in the NHL.
Hockey Hall of Famer Howie Morenz played his final NHL game on January 28, 1937. The Montreal Canadiens star fell to the ice and got his foot stuck in the wooden boards. Chicago defenseman Earl Seibert was unable to stop and crashed into Morenz, creating a loud noise that was heard throughout the arena: It was the sound of Morenz's leg shattering. It was broken in four places.
"The Stratford Streak" was told his hockey career was most likely over. He grew depressed and had what doctors described as a "nervous breakdown." He never left the hospital and probably died of a heart attack on March 8 at the age of 34. Many people later said they felt Morenz died of a broken heart.
Morenz's body was viewed at the Forum in Montreal on March 10, as the fans were given a chance to say goodbye.
Flyers goalie Bernie Parent's Hall of Fame career came to an abrupt end on February 17, 1979 during a game against the New York Rangers at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.
An errant stick hit Parent in the eye despite the fact that he was wearing a fiberglass mask. This injury was a factor in goalies changing to the birdcage mask, which gave better eye protection.
Parent was temporarily blinded for about two weeks after the incident. While he did regain his vision, he was unable to play hockey again.
In the first game of the 1950 NHL playoffs, Detroit's Gordie Howe suffered a horrible injury after an incident involving Toronto's Teeder Kennedy.
Howe went to check Kennedy, but the Leafs star was able to avoid the hit, and Howe was unable to stop and crashed head first into the boards just before Jack Stewart fell on top of him.
Mr. Hockey suffered broken broken bones in his face, a lacerated eye and a concussion. He needed emergency surgery and missed the rest of the 1950 playoffs. The Red Wings eliminated the Leafs in the first round of the playoffs and defeated the New York Rangers in seven games to win the Stanley Cup. Howe returned to action the following season.
During the 1972 Summit Series, Canada's Bobby Clarke delivered what many consider the most famous slash in hockey history when he whacked Soviet superstar Valeri Kharlamov in the ankle during Game 6 of the series. Kharlamov had been one of the Soviet Union's best players. He suffered a broken ankle and could not return to action in any of the remaining game.
Canada went on to win the series 4-3-1 on Paul Henderson's last minute goal in Game 8. Clarke's hatched job on Kharlamov was considered a turning point in the series.
On April 14, 1999, Dallas defenseman Derian Hatcher left his feet to deliver a hard check to Phoenix's Jeremy Roenick behind the Stars' net.
The hit broke Roenick's jaw. As you can see from the following footage, his entire mouth was uneven and out of place. Even that couldn't prevent JR from opening his mouth.
In Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, New Jersey's Scott Stevens delivered a devastating hit to Anaheim's Paul Kariya. Stevens hit Kariya square on the jaw and knocked him out cold.
Kariya suffered a concussion on the play and was laying on the ice for several moments after the hit. No penalty was called on the play.
On February 10, 2008, Florida's Richard Zednik almost died when the skate of teammate Olli Jokinen accidentally sliced his neck in a game against the Buffalo Sabres.
The blade of Jokinen's skate sliced through Zednik's carotid artery, and he nearly bled to death. This video is not easy to watch.
Todd Bertuzzi's sucker punch of Steve Moore remains one of the most infamous moments in NHL history.
On March 8, 2004, after failing to goad Moore into a fight, Bertuzzi punched the Avalanche forward from behind in the head. Bertuzzi stayed on Moore and drove his face into the ice as he fell. Two other players piled on quickly.
When the dust settled, Moore was lying motionless on the ice and had to be removed from the ice on a stretcher. He suffered three broken bones in his neck, a concussion and facial lacerations. He never played another NHL game.
Meanwhile, Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely by the league with a minimum of the rest of the regular season and playoffs.
Bertuzzi issued an apology to Moore and his family a few days after the incident. He did not return to the ice until after the 2004-05 lockout ended when he was reinstated by the league.
On February 21, 2000, Bruins enforcer Marty McSorely hit Vancouver tough guy Donald Brashear in the head with his stick with three seconds remaining in the game.
Brashear hit his head on the ice and suffered a serious concussion on the play. McSorely was suspended for the rest of the 1999-2000 season and never played another NHL game.
He was later found guilty of criminal assault and sentenced to 18 months probation for his attack on Brashear.
Flyers goalie Ron Hextall was known for using his stick to clear opponents away from his crease, but this play went a little far. During the 1987 Stanley Cup Final, Hextall took a two-handed swing at the back of the knees of Kent Nilsson of Edmonton.
Hextall claimed to be retaliating for an earlier hit on him by Edmonton's Glenn Anderson. He later apologized for hitting Nilsson, but not for the action itself.
"I'm sorry it was Nilsson and not Anderson I hit, but I just reacted. At the time, it seemed the right thing to do," Hextall said after the game.
Did Nilsson embellish a little after he was hacked? Maybe. But the hit itself was a vicious one.
Bryan Marchment earned a reputation for questionable hits during his NHL career. Here, his hard check on Dallas' Joe Nieuwendyk during a 1998 playoff game between Dallas and San Jose results in a painful torn ACL for Nieuwendyk.
The Stars center needed two surgeries to repair the damage and missed the rest of the 1998 playoffs and the beginning of the 1998-99 season as a result.
This may not be a "hockey injury" in the true sense of the word, but it happened to a hockey player during an NHL game, so I felt I had to include it on the list.
Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer actually went into cardiac arrest during a game against the Nashville Predators on November 21, 2005. He had to be rushed to the hospital. For the first time, an NHL game was canceled and rescheduled due to an injury/illness.
Fischer survived, but his heart abnormalities essentially ended his career. He went on to work for the Red Wings organization in scouting and player development.
In one of the saddest incidents in hockey history, New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov died during a KHL game in Chekhov, Russia, on October 13, 2008. He was only 19.
Cherepanov went into cardiac arrest. The ambulance that was normally at games had already left, and the young star had to wait approximately 15 crucial minutes before it returned and he could be rushed to a local hospital. The lack of proper medical care at the game may have been a factor in Cherepanov's death, although the exact cause of his collapse and passing remains in dispute.
After this, the KHL required an ambulance remain at all games and better on-site medical care also be made available for all players.
On September 15, 1997, Maple Leafs tough guy Nick Kypreos dropped the gloves with Rangers enforcer Ryan Vandenbussche in a preseason game.
Vandenbussche won the fight, and Kypreos was out cold when he fell to the ice face first and suffered a serious concussion. Kypreos never played another NHL game as a result of the injury due to post-concussion syndrome. He went on to have a successful broadcasting career.
Montreal winger Travis Moen suffered an ugly injury during this game against Ottawa when he was accidentally cut in the face by the skate blade of Matt Cullen of Ottawa.
The Flyers and the Seals had several memorable run-ins during the Seals' brief, nine-year stay in the NHL.
On October 25, 1974, defenseman Mike Christie became the latest member of the Seals to be attacked by more than one member of the Flyers. Christie had a one-on-one fight with Dave Schultz early in the game, but at 8:20 of the third period, another fight broke loose, and the rookie defenseman was jumped by four Flyers in the penalty box. A big brawl broke out and lasted nearly 40 minutes as both benches emptied.
Seals center Stan Weir called it "the most chicken s**t act I've ever seen in hockey."
Even Dave Schultz, the Flyers famed fighter, felt sympathy for Christie after this incident. In his book, The Hammer: Confessions of a Hockey Enforcer, Schultz said, "I don't like brawls that are one sided. I kind of felt sorry for Christie."
The two teams set a new NHL record with 232 penalty minutes in a game (since broken). Five Flyers and three Seals were ejected. Don Saleski and Bob Kelly were each suspended six games for their actions.
While no video of this incident survives, I have included a clip of Christie fighting Boston's Terry O'Reilly that same year.
There is no footage of the actual incident, but the story of Eddie Shore's ear injury has become the stuff of gruesome legend.
Amazingly enough, the incident took place during practice during the 1925-26 season shortly after Shore's Boston Bruins acquired Sprague Cleghorn and Billy Coutu from the Canadiens via trade. Apparently, Coutu had a grudge to settle with Shore, and the two went at each other hard in practice. The result: a part of Shore's ear was almost ripped off and Coutu was knocked out cold.
Shore visited several doctors who said the ear would have to be amputated, but he eventually found one who said it could be sewn back on. The future Hall of Famer refused an anaesthetic and used a mirror to actually watch his ear be reattached.
After that, nobody doubted Eddie Shore's toughness, although some people may have questioned his sanity.
Chicago's Adam Burish was given this ugly gash to his neck by the errant skate of teammate Ben Eager during a game against the Red Wings in Detroit.
Defenseman Jamie Heward of the Washington Capitals was injured on this play when the skate blade of Dallas Stars center Mike Modano accidentally clipped him on the face.
Heward was able to skate off on his own power, although the damage the skate blade did to his face is easy to see on this video.
This is another gory incident from the KHL. Defenseman Denis Sokolov nearly died after a skate blade from former NHL player Jan Bulis slashed his carotid artery.
The video of this incident has been removed from YouTube, so this photo of Bulis will have to suffice, but this was a particularly difficult incident to watch.
Skate blades don't discriminate. In this strange incident, Oilers phenom Taylor Hall suffered a massive laceration after being hit in the face by teammate Corey Potter's skate blade after the two players accidentally collided during pre-game warmups.
Hall ended up needing 30 stitches to close the wound.
Darren McCarty was known as a tough guy, but in this fight with Sheldon Souray, he took a lot more than he dished out, and his face was a bloody mess.
After the fight, the Flames enforcer's face was not a pretty sight, as you can see from this clip of the incident.
Future Hall of Fame defenseman Borje Salming suffered a horrible injury after the skate blade of Detroit's Gerard Gallant inadvertently cut his face while he was lying on the ice in front of the Leafs goal.
The native of Sweden required facial surgery as a result of the incident and required more than 200 stitches to close the wound.
A small piece of advice to Ian Laperriere: When attempting to block a shot, don't use your face.
The Flyers forward did just that in this game against the New Jersey Devils and needed more than 100 stitches to stop the bleeding.
During Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Final between Tampa Bay and Boston, Lightning forward Steven Stamkos showed his toughness.
He broke his nose after being hit in the face with a deflected slapshot by Johnny Boychuk of Boston.
A few minutes later, Stamkos returned to action using a face shield, which is shown towards the end of this clip of the incident.
The Bruins went on to win the game 1-0 and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
On December 27, 1980, Mark Howe suffered an injury that changed the way goals were designed and kept in place during NHL games.
While playing for the Hartford Whalers, Howe slid into the pointy middle part of the goal, and he was impaled by the metal, opening up a five-inch long gash in his thigh.
The injury nearly ended Howe's Hall of Fame career before it really took off. As a result of the injury, the league redesigned goals so they were less pointed inside and less likely to pierce a player who fell inside them.
The NHL career of Montreal's Trent McCleary came to an abrupt close on January 29, 2000, when he was hit in the throat by a slapshot off stick off Philadelphia's Chris Therien.
McCleary had to be rushed to the hospital and nearly died as a result of a fractured larynx and a collapsed lung.
He tried to resume his NHL career the following season, but was constantly short of breath because the size of his windpipe was reduced by 15 percent. He retired before the 2000-2001 season got underway on the advice of his doctors.
Philadelphia's Patrick Thoresen suffered what most men would consider the most painful injury possible when he took a Mike Green slapshot directly into his "groin area" during a playoff game between the Flyers and the Washington Capitals on April 11, 2008.
Play was not stopped while Thoresen was writhing in pain on the ice and Washington scored a goal before the whistle blew, but that was the least of Thoresen's worries at the time.
Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman had a scary moment on May 1, 2004 when he was hit in the eye by a deflected shapshot off the stick of Flames defenseman Rhett Warrener.
Yzerman suffered a scratched cornea and a broken orbital bone on the play and had to undergo an operation on his eye after the game. He missed the rest of the 2004 NHL playoffs as a result of this incident.
Washington Capitals captain Chris Clark suffered a horrible injury in a game against the Boston Bruins in November 2006 when an errant puck hit him in the face.
Clark's palate bone was crushed by the puck, and he also lost his two front teeth.
Amazingly, Clark missed only two games as a result of the injury before returning to action wearing the face mask you see in the photo above.
Kurtis Foster of the Wild suffered a horrible injury in a game against the San Jose Sharks on March 20, 2008.
Foster was racing to get the puck behind his own net to touch up on an icing call. Torrey Mitchell of San Jose was just behind Mitchell and collided with him just after he touched the puck.
Foster crashed violently into the boards an broke his femur. He was removed from the ice strapped to a stretcher and needed surgery to repair the broken bone. Foster was done for the rest of the 2007-08 season and playoffs.
Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom was one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history and is a surefire Hall of Famer once he's eligible in three years. But beyond all the Norris Trophies, Stanley Cup wins and All-Star Game appearances, Lidstrom has an often forgotten "achievement."
During the 2009 NHL playoffs, Lidstrom suffered an injury that got very little publicity at the time: a ruptured testicle. In Game 3 of the Wings' series with the Chicago Blackhawks, Patrick Sharp of Chicago speared the Red Wings' captain in the groin.
Lidstrom had surgery on the affected area and missed the next two games of the series. They were the first two playoff games that Lidstrom ever missed in his career.
Amazingly enough, Lidstrom tried to play with the injury at first. "I thought it was OK that Saturday when I practiced," Lidstrom said. "But Sunday, I was just in too much pain. I had surgery during that game."
Montreal's Max Pacioretty suffered a fractured vertebra and a severe concussion on this controversial hit by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on March 8, 2011.
The gruesome aspect of this injury occurred when Pacioretty collided with the stanchion at the end of the bench.
Chara was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct, but no suspension was handed down by the league.
Pacioretty missed the remainder of the 2010-11 season, but was able to resume his career at the start of the following season.
Darryl Boyce of Toronto was the unfortunate victim of circumstance during this game against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.
Boyce went to check a Carolina player but missed, crashing face-first into the boards. Unfortunately, his nose crashed into a hole in the glass where cameramen put their lenses, and he suffered a grizzly broken nose.
Boston's Daniel Paille took a hard slapshot to the face during this game against the New York Islanders in Boston.
Paille was helped off the ice with a pool of blood around him. You can see his blood-stained helmet towards the end of this video.
This is the second Scott Stevens hit to make this list. This one took place during the seventh and deciding game of the 2000 Eastern Conference Final between the Devils and Philadelphia Flyers.
Stevens nailed Lindros, who had his head down as he crossed the New Jersey blueline. It was the second major concussion Lindros suffered during this season and essentially ended Lindros' Flyers career and his time as an elite NHL player.
There is no question that this was a forearm or elbow to the jaw, and if Stevens delivered this hit today, he would be receiving a call from Brendan Shanahan. The Devils went on to win the game and advance to the Stanley Cup Final that year.
There was no doubt that Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard was frustrated after the Thrashers scored a goal against his club, so much so that he swung his stick against the goal post.
Ballard hit the post, but also slashed his own goalie, Tomas Vokoun, in the head with his swing. The Panthers goalie suffered a lacerated ear and was rushed to the hospital after this incident, which took place on November 30, 2009.
April 6, 1997, was not a good day for Philadelphia Flyers wing Mikael Renberg. He was slashed across the face by an Ottawa Senators' player and required 200 facial stitches to close the wound.
On March 22, 1989, goalie Clint Malarchuk suffered what may be the most gruesome injury in NHL history.
The Sabres goalie nearly died when his jugular vein was cut by the skate of Steve Tuttle of the Blues.
This is a difficult video to watch for the faint of heart.