MONTREAL – While Johnny Boychuk clearly isn’t going to be feeling all that good when he wakes up on Friday morning and may miss some time, things could have been a lot worse.
The Bruins defenseman was released from a downtown Montreal hospital and was able to fly home with the team after sustaining a lower back injury when he was sent into the boards behind the Montreal net by Max Pacioretty.
Boychuk was in good enough spirits that he was joking he didn’t get any “complimentary poutine” in his brief hospital stay in Montreal.
Pacioretty served a two-minute minor penalty for boarding that was the proper punishment for executing a hit in a dangerous location on the ice, but was very concerned for Boychuk’s well-being following the game.
“I obviously feel terrible. I’ve been in that situation before, and I had no intent to injure anybody,” said Pacioretty, who was the victim in the Zdeno Chara collision with the stanchion three years ago on the same Bell Centre ice. “I thought I was just playing hard, I hope everything’s going to be all right for him.”
Boychuk was strapped to a backboard and wheeled off the ice on a stretcher before being whisked away to the hospital in an ambulance. a source told CSNNE.com that it was a lower back injury. The Bruins defenseman has already missed a game this season with back spasms, so it appears to be a worsening of a condition he was already managing.
Video replays of the hit showed Boychuk’s lower back hyper-extending as he smacked into the boards, and the lower back appeared to lock up on him while he was on all fours on the ice. The whole scene was scary given Boychuk’s reaction as he was shaking and seemingly gasping for breath on the ice. That seemed to calm down as he was sent to the hospital for observation.
His teammates were hoping for the best for their popular teammate after the 2-1 loss to the Canadiens.
“I was there beside him on the ice, and you could see that he was shaking, and that he couldn’t move,” said Milan Lucic, who, along with Chara, helped lift Boychuk onto the stretcher after a long time down on the ice. “It was unfortunate that you lose him in a game like this because he’s such an important part of our team. You just hope that he can fully recover from that.
“Every time you see something like that happen to a player, your thoughts are always with their health and well-being. It’s tough to put all of that aside and focus on whatever you have to in order to win a game. But it’s the nature of the game. Injuries happen and unfortunately Johnny was on the wrong side of it.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien could only confirm that Boychuk would be flying home with the team, and that he did suffer an injury as a result of the collision.