Heward is Healing
With less than five minutes remaining in Friday night’s 4-3 Washington win over Dallas, Capitals defenseman Jamie Heward suffered a gruesome injury. Dallas center Mike Modano’s skate kicked up from the rear and sliced open the left side of Heward’s face from the bridge of his nose to the left of his left eye. Heward went down immediately, then just as quickly rose and darted for the bench while the blood flowed freely from his face.
Two weeks after Chris Clark’s dental rearrangement, another Washington player suffered a serious facial injury.
“They’re all trying to live up to the Chris Clark standard,” said Caps general manager George McPhee, referencing the toughness and fortitude the team’s captain showed in the wake of his injury against Boston two weeks back. “And [Heward] got up and skated off. And he was doing fine until [goaltender] Olie [Kolzig] said, ‘Oh my God!’”
That was the general reaction from anyone who watched the incident, whether they were in the lower bowl or up in the rafters with the denizens of press row.
“He came skating right at us, and our whole bench just saw it,” said Caps coach Glen Hanlon. “We knew it was serious. You could see the blood all over. It’s more or less the reaction of the player. Normally if you are hurt pretty bad, you just try to stay down. When you are hurt real seriously there is kind of a mechanism that says, ‘I’ve got to go and get some help.’”
That mechanism propelled Heward to the players’ bench and right down the runway to the Capitals’ locker room where he was able to get immediate medical attention. The veteran Capitals defenseman spent the next three hours receiving somewhere between 100 and 200 stitches to close up his wound. It took three and a half hours to close the facial gash. Friday afternoon, Heward visited with a plastic surgeon for the next step in the healing process.
“He is going to see a facial guy right now,” said Capitals head athletic trainer Greg Smith. “First, you’re concerned about safety and keeping it clean. But now we’re into appearance. Our main goal is clean him up, stop the bleeding, stabilize him, suture him up, because that limits the [possibility] of infection. It’s cleaner for us to just suture right there than to transport the guy. Now it’s our job to take it from the injury to try to do the cosmetic part of it, and make sure all the nerves are functioning good in the face and stuff like that. And we’ll do all that in the next couple of days.”
The skate blade cut deep, making this far more than a run-of-the-mill surface cut.
“It cut a little bit of the facial muscle, which is normal,” said Smith. “There are a couple of facial nerves in there that will probably regenerate.”
McPhee characterized Heward’s availability as “week-to-week,” which is pretty good considering the severity of the slice.
Bryan Muir will step back into the lineup in Heward’s absence. Washington has no plans to recall any players from its AHL affiliate in Hershey, where the Bears are in the midst of a stretch in which they must play four times in five nights.