Tocchet feels the pain of Crosby’s broken jaw
Every broken jaw is a little different. Hockey players are a little different, too.
It remains unknown how much time Penguins star Sidney Crosby will miss with his broken jaw, but hockey history is littered with players who were able to play with the condition.
Former Penguins right wing Rick Tocchet, a significant member of the 1991-92 Stanley Cup champion Penguins, played late in the regular season and through the playoffs with a broken jaw. He missed only one game because of it.
“It happened on a delayed offside play,” Tocchet said. “Mario (Lemieux) caught me with a shot. I knew the next day that something wasn’t right.”
Tocchet was struck in the face March 15, 1992, in Chicago and went to see a dentist the next day. His abnormally large jaw made it impossible for his condition to be diagnosed, so he was forced to go see a specialist.
“They said the jaw was broken,” Tocchet said. “The next day, it really hurt. It was almost like I couldn’t bite down.”
Tocchet wasn’t dealing with a shattered jaw, as some players have, and it appears Crosby’s condition is more serious. Crosby required surgery while Tocchet did not.
Still, Tocchet was forced to play in significant pain, and he has some advice for Crosby.
“You can’t just have chocolate milkshakes or anything like that,” Tocchet said. “The blender is about to become Sid’s best friend. My mom came down (from Canada) and helped me out. Everything — and I mean everything — went into the blender. That will be what Sid has to deal with. You need to get good calories in you. Blend all the fruit and veggies that you can. I lost 7 or 8 pounds.”
Tocchet said Crosby might have to become more of a perimeter player if his jaw is still tender when he first returns to the lineup. Crosby typically spends much of his time in puck battles on the boards and in front of the net.
“I marvel at Sid because, unlike a lot of stars, he always is around contact,” Tocchet said. “He’s always the first in the corners with (6-foot-9, 255-pound Boston defenseman Zdeno) Chara, and he’s not afraid to mix it up. I love that about his game, but he might need to change it up a little.”
Tocchet, it should be noted, never changed his approach.
He fought Islanders forward Kris King immediately after returning and fought Washington defenseman Kevin Hatcher in the playoffs.
“King was taking some liberties with Mario, so I did what I had to do,” Tocchet said. “(Penguins coach) Scotty Bowman didn’t talk to me for a week after I fought King because he was so mad at me for fighting with a broken jaw.”
Crosby won’t fight anytime soon.
Tocchet just hopes to see him on the ice soon.
“He’s the MVP, the best player in the game,” Tocchet said. “Hopefully his injury is more like mine, and he’s able to play soon.”