Niklas Hjalmarsson, Sean O’Donnell look to rebound in Game 2Continue reading.
Niklas Hjalmarsson speaks: ‘It was pretty scary once it happened. I guess I was pretty lucky’
For Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, it was not just another blocked shot.
“It was pretty scary once it happened. It was tough to breathe for a couple minutes,” said Hjalmarsson, speaking publicly Monday for the first time since he suffered the injury in Game 2 against the Minnesota Wild on May 4 at the United Center. “I was just glad I recovered quickly. Once I figured out that I’m able to breathe, it was a big relief.
“I guess I was pretty lucky and I’m just glad I’m able to talk again and can’t wait to get rid of that neck guard that I’m still wearing.”
Hjalmarsson, who almost always skates off the various injuries he suffers after blocking shots, did not miss a shift after he was hit in the throat by a shot from the point by Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin. But he was told by doctors not to speak, which was problematic on the ice, especially with defense partner Johnny Oduya.
“The doctor just told me, ‘You shouldn’t talk for two weeks,’ ” Hjalmarsson said. “‘ You should let it rest. Don’t talk unless it makes you money.’”
He said he was cleared Monday to talk.
“It was pretty tough in the beginning,” he said. “I’m a guy that usually talks a lot on the ice, especially with my [defense] partner — screaming at him and screaming at my teammates sometimes, too. I think for some of the forwards were pretty happy with me not being able to talk for some time.
“As far as Johnny O, I think he’s pretty happy that I can communicate again. It was a little challenge, but the playoffs — you’ve got to play through some injuries every now and then. Hopefully it’ll be better from now on.”
Hjalmarsson has been hailed as a warrior for his ability to shake off the impact of so many blocked shots without missing a shift. But he doesn’t think it’s all that heroic.
“I don’t think it’s a special skill,” he said. “A special skill is like Kaner [Patrick Kane], who can score special goals that only he can. And Tazer [Jonathan Toews]. Shot-blocking — every single guy on the team can do that.
“You just have to get in front of the shooting lane. It’s just a matter of desperation and trying to do everything you can to prevent the other team from scoring goals. Every guy in the league can block a shot if they want to.”