It will take more than a nasty skate blade injury to sideline Zach Sill for the rest of the season.
The fifth-year center was injured late in Saturday’s game at Norfolk when he was cut on the lower arm by a skate blade. Sill was taken to Pittsburgh on Sunday and had surgery on the arm Monday morning, according to head coach John Hynes. While the surgery did address some tendon issues, Hynes said Sill didn’t suffer any permanent damage and will be back before the end of the season.
“Although the timing for injuries is never good, the news is good in that he will be back,” Hynes said after Tuesday’s practice at the Toyota Sportsplex. “In Zach’s case it shouldn’t be an issue. He’s an experienced pro and he’s had injury setbacks before over the last five years. He should be able to continue on with the good year he’s having.”
Days before the injury, Sill returned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after a 20-game stint with Pittsburgh — the first NHL call-up of his career. He scored a goal in his first game back Friday and was playing on the team’s second line.
While the news is good that Sill’s season likely won’t be lost, the nature of the injury was an eye-opener for his teammates.
Winger Bobby Farnham played on Sill’s line for much of the last two seasons and admitted the injury was bothersome.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t in the back of my mind. I try not to watch the replay,” Farnham said. “It’s just a really unlucky thing that happened to a guy who was having a great year. I feel really bad for Siller and we’re going to miss him a lot.”
Farnham said while skate blade injuries aren’t common, they do happen. Winger Paul Thompson was nicked on the nose by a skate blade in the preseason, and years ago Farnham said, his thumb was cut by a blade.
Former Penguin Paul Bissonnette suffered a severe cut on his wrist after an opponent inadvertantly stepped on him during a playoff game in 2009. Current Penguin Zack Torquato lost the tip of his middle finger after it was stepped on during a game last season.
And now Sill suffered a cut to his lower arm after he was tangled up with a Norfolk player who fell to the ice.
Hynes said there is really no way for a player to protect himself against errant skate blades.
“They’re so freak, but when they’re cut is seems fairly significant,” he said. “Most that happen are split-second plays and it’s not really a methodical play. A guys falls down and momentum picks up the skate.
“You can go through video with guys of what to do in almost every situation, but with skate blade injuries they’re so infrequent and there’s no pattern.”
Farnham said some players wear cut-resistant socks and there are wrist guards that offer protection, but nothing is cut-proof.
“How much can that stuff really help with how sharp that skate blade is? There may be certain things you can do, but even with all the equipment we have on there is still a lot of skin exposed,” he said.
• The Penguins held a brief practice on Tuesday and will play at home tonight for the first time in more than two weeks, hosting the Syracuse Crunch. Syracuse is in last place in the East Division and has lost they’re last four games, but Hynes cautioned they’re a team not to be taken lightly. They did beat the Penguins 4-2 in the last meeting on Dec. 31.
“At this point in the year you’re not even looking at where teams are in the standings, it’s about the team and the character and we know we have a good opponent coming in here,” Hynes said. “They’re a proud organization and the last time they came here they beat us sound. We’re not taking anything lightly.”