Winnipeg Jets veteran winger Blake Wheeler returned to the ice Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning after suffering arguably the most devastating injury a man could ever endure.
Ten days before Christmas, Wheeler blocked a shot against the Nashville Predators and in the process, ruptured one of his testicles. Nevertheless, Wheeler powered through the injury and finished the game because he's a hockey player, and that's what they do.
Blake Wheeler ruptured a testicle after he was struck by a Josh Morrissey shot on December 15th.— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) January 6, 2023
He finished the game anyway pic.twitter.com/2z8rmcs8hq
Speaking with reporters ahead of Friday's game, Wheeler explained how he played through such a gruesome injury.
"There's a difference between being hurt and being injured," Wheeler said. "I didn't know I was injured until the next day."
Wheeler credited the Jets' medical staff and doctors in the Winnipeg area for getting him back on the ice not only intact but one week earlier than expected.
"It's something I don't want to go through again and wouldn't wish on anyone, but I just feel really grateful that our medical staff and the doctors we have in town took good care of me and was able to get everything taken care of and back as soon as I was able to."
A 15-year NHL veteran, Wheeler has seen a lot during his career, but it's safe to say his unfortunate incident last month was a first.
In his 13th season with the Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers, Wheeler ranks first in the franchise's history in games played (854), assists (528), and points (783).
In 29 games for Winnipeg this season, the 36-year-old has recorded 26 points (9 goals, 17 assists).
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