December 08, 2009
Winless in their last five, including new head coach Peter Laviolette's first two games, the Philadelphia Flyers would have welcomed any sort of lucky break to end their current slide. They came close to getting that break when New York Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt(notes) was hit by a Yukon in Philadelphia while on his way to Starbucks on Tuesday morning.
The truck was making an illegal left turn, and Witt jumped and slid across the hood before hitting the pavement. Witt brushed himself off and reassured the crowd who'd begun to gather around him by whipping out his credentials: "I've got to go play some hockey. I'm a hockey player. I'm OK. No big deal." After almost being scratched for Tuesday night's game against the Flyers, Witt did end up making it to Starbucks and grabbing a latte.
Witnesses in the area were amazed at Witt's toughness and ability to take a hit from a SUV as Newsday's Katie Strang reported (sub. required):
One man who witnessed the chain of events from Starbucks couldn’t believe he saw the 34-year-old Humboldt, Saskatchewan, native walk away from the incident virtually unscathed. "Boy, that guy is tough," he said. "It was like seeing Clint Eastwood, but in hockey."
The onlooker said he originally thought what he witnessed was a scene being filmed for a movie. "I really thought a Hollywood movie was being made. I was looking around for cameras," the man said. "I can’t believe how tough this guy is. It’s insanity."
The Eastwood reference, of course, led to TSN's headline of the story to be: "Do Ya Feel Lucky?" Well, do ya?
Luckily, ahem, Witt wasn't dealt the same fate as Doug Wickenheiser, who missed a season and a half after tearing his ACL and MCL in 1984 during a team prank that saw him fall out of a truck and get hit by a car. (UPDATE: In fact, Witt played 17 minutes and 2 seconds for the Islanders against the Flyers, with no points and a two-minute penalty for holding. The Flyers in fact broke their slump with a 6-2 win.)
In the past year the NHL has seen a future Hall of Famer fall victim to a snow blower, a defenseman lacerate his own goaltender's ear and numerous skate-to-body-part injuries. Maybe next time Witt is in town to face the Flyers, he should have a youngster like Rob Schremp(notes) or Josh Bailey(notes) run his errands to avoid this obvious attempt by the Philadelphia hockey gods to give their team a better shot at two points. In other words, Sidney Crosby(notes) and Evgeni Malkin(notes) will likely be locked in their hotel rooms when the Penguins and Flyers meet next Thursday.