Flyers Notebook: Injured Coburn vows to return
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PHILADELPHIA -- After first balking at the idea of facing cameras, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn made a surprise visit to the team's morning news conference yesterday and vowed to return to the lineup just as soon as he could open his left eye.
That certainly wasn't last night for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against the Penguins at Wachovia Center.
Coburn was hit with a deflected puck early in Game 2. His eye remained swollen and had the appearance of being glued shut. There was dark bruising around that eye and, to a lesser extent, under his right eye. A gash that required dozens of stitches ran above his left eye, down and across the bridge of his nose.
"My eye is swollen shut, so it makes it a little hard to do things, but besides that, I feel all right," Coburn said. "I think as soon as my eye opens up, we'll re-evaluate what's going on." Coburn's stick was tied up with that of Penguins center Evgeni Malkin when he got blasted. He hit the deck and left a pool of blood on the ice.
Although there is not believed to be any damage to Coburn's eye or sight, the injury scared his teammates, who were relieved to see him at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., where he rode a stationary bike while the team held its morning skate.
"Right when it happened you couldn't help but think of the worst," teammate Mike Richards said. "Being there, and seeing the blood, it was kind of a shock for you.
"But knowing that he's going to be all right and seeing him around gives you a little more motivation."
Philadelphia had already added Jaroslav Modry to its lineup for this series after top two-way defenseman and power-play quarterback Kimmo Timonen was diagnosed with a blood clot in his left ankle a day before Game 1.
With Coburn out, the Flyers turned last night to rookie Ryan Parent, whose previous NHL playoff experience was limited to 13:17 of ice time in his team's 5-4 loss to Washington in Game 1 of the first round more than a month ago.
"It's tough being out of the game for a while, but we're working hard in practice to make sure in case something like this had happened that you'd be ready to go," said Parent, who turns 21 Saturday.
He entered last night's game with no points in 23 career NHL regular-season games, 22 of those this season, and a simple game plan.
"Being thrown in, I think my job's just going to have to be keeping it simple and, hopefully, eliminating their scoring chances," Parent said.
As with just about any incident involving a player's eye area, Coburn's injury brought up the issue of visors and whether they should be mandatory.
"You see so many players coming into the league now that don't know anything different because that's all they've ever done is worn face protection. They've never played without a visor. To me, that's a situation where you maybe like to see them leave it on," said Flyers coach John Stevens, whose playing career ended because of an eye injury while he was with the Philadelphia Phantoms.
"I think the argument was kind of a macho thing or maybe it was too hot in the building. I think the way the buildings are cooled off now, it is less of an issue. ... A visor is just another thing that if you're not going to wear one, I'd like to know a good reason why you're not going to wear one. If there is a good reason, we'll live by it. If you're growing up with it, you're used to it. If it doesn't affect your level of play, ability to see or the fact that you're getting hot, it's not a bad idea to wear one."
Despite the bad luck with losing two of their own and the superstitious nature of hockey players, the healthy Philadelphia defensemen aren't resorting to anything too nutty to try to avoid injury.
"No rabbit's feet or anything like that," Lasse Kukkonen said. "Yeah, we've had a couple injuries, and that's something you don't want to see, but it's the playoffs and anything can happen."
First Published May 14, 2008 12:00 am