With the exception of those who have found alternative employment with European clubs, NHL players are on their own in terms of taking care of injuries that might arise while they practice.
The Penguins who have been skating at Southpointe were reminded of that Friday when winger Matt Cooke left the ice with a bloodied face.
It was a gruesome, though apparently not serious, injury. About 20 minutes into the session, Cooke was leaning or reaching forward when Sidney Crosby's stick inadvertently got under Cooke's visor. The blade tip carved a chunk out of the middle of Cooke's forehead, in the Cyclops area.
Usually, trainers would have attended to such a gash, and a team doctor would have treated it. But club employees are not permitted to have contact with players during the lockout, and there have been no medical personnel on hand for lockout practices.
The players helped Cooke get a towel and get off the ice. He was followed to their rental locker room by Crosby, who helped Cooke fish gauze out of the arena's first aid kit. Cooke left with his gear before practice ended.
Crosby said he believed Cooke has a local doctor he could visit and that "it's kind of inevitable" that someone will get some sort of injury in practice occasionally.
A group of Penguins ranging from a few to more than a dozen have been practicing four days a week at Southpointe since the lockout began in mid-September.
Cooke and Crosby were among six Penguins, all forwards, at the start of practice. The others were Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Craig Adams and Tyler Kennedy.
Judging by the color coordination of their NHLPA jerseys, the scrimmage in the second half of the workout was to have featured Kunitz, Crosby and Dupuis as a team or on a line. Without Cooke and down to the odd number of five, they had to improvise.
But how to decide whether Kunitz, Crosby or Dupuis would step away from that line? Rock-paper-scissors, of course. Dupuis lost.
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun, acquired in June, signed with Karlovy Vary in his native Czech Republic. He is the fourth Penguins player to sign with a European club during the lockout. ... Penguins center Evgeni Malkin moved into third in Kontinental Hockey League scoring with a power-play goal in Metallurg Magnitogorsk's 4-1 win against Vityaz. Malkin has eight goals and 28 points in 18 games. His 20 assists are tied for the lead in the KHL, which is now starting a break of almost two weeks. ... Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey had a goal in Medvescak Zagreb's 5-2 win against Dornbirner in the Austrian League. ... Former Penguins enforcer Eric Godard, a member of their Stanley Cup team in 2009, is retiring, according to the Vernon (British Columbia) Morning Star.