...or other possible injuries for your Blackhawks defensemen. With news coming out about Chris Campoli's hidden injuries today, Brian Campbell's foot injuries already semi-well known, Brent Seabrook's ailments being fairly obvious, and Nick Leddy suffering from nothing more severe than the NHL's second worse case of Horse Face, that leaves just one more question to answer: just what on earth was wrong with Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson?
My pops and I attended the Blackhawks-Maple Leafs game back in March, and before the game we did what any self-respecting hockey fan does on a rare trip to Toronto: we visited the Hockey Hall of Fame. For any hockey fan who has never been, I highly recommend a trip if you get the chance. If you get wrapped up in the frivolities of hockey, it's something you can really enjoy, especially little things like the gloves Wayne Gretzky wore when he scored his 24th goal in 1989 or the stick Steven Stamkos used to score a goal in some international tournament that you didn't even know existed before. The season following the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup Championship, of course, was the best time to go because a lot of the displays had items relating to the Cup run: Brent Seabrook's skates and Dustin Byfuglien's shoulder pads were among the items available to the viewing public. But in this situation there was one in particular that caught my eye: Brent Sopel's gloves.
For those who can't read it, the card basically said that the equipment staff modified these gloves to offer Sopel more protection in penalty killing situations.
How is that relevant? Well, check out the gloves Keith was wearing in warmups for the Toronto game:
If you remember, Keith left that game with some sort of hand injury (I didn't see the play he was hurt on, and without access to Twitter in the strange, foreign land of Canada I didn't catch what anyone else thought caused it either). On the other hand, check out Keith's mitts in the Vancouver series.
For some reason, Keith has switched from Bauer gloves to Warrior gloves. While these clearly don't look as reinforced as Sopes' Blocker, they do appear a little bit bulkier than the Bauer gloves and could have been beefed up a little less dramatically to allow Keith to wear them in all situations.
and later on opting to move to Warrior as well
I noticed the switch far sooner than the Vancouver series, but figured it was just because I have a strange obsession with hockey gloves (when I first started playing when I was 10, all the equipment I had was used except for the gloves, so that was probably why). This doesn't really prove any kind of a finger or hand injury exists for either player, but it was just something that jumped out on me.
How would hand injuries have hampered the play of the Hawks' rearguard when it seemed that most of the problems existed between the ears? A hand injury could have been a factor in contributing to some of the sub-par passing in the Vancouver series and much of the regular season (which plagued the whole team and not just these 2 gentlemen). Maybe Hjalmarsson's desire to very quickly blindly fire every puck as far away from him as possible stemmed from not wanting to be slashed in the hands. Or maybe this was all much ado about nothing and I was simply tired of my internal debate for who I should be cheering for in the Red Wings- Sharks series (the answer is obvious for many of you, but the only consideration I make is 'who has the best chance of beating Vancouver?').
Campoli's mysterious injury proved that there are probably many out there we don't (and likely won't) know about. But if anybody mentions a hand/finger injury on Duncs or Hammer, you heard it here first. Or, you know, somewhere else.