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Methot to mangled-finger madness: ‘I put that aside’

Marc Methot missed only 23 days after the severed tip of his pinkie finger was stitched back on. “The guy is a warrior,” says Senators teammate Craig Anderson. 

OTTAWA, Ontario — Clarke MacArthur was in the stands watching when the gruesome image flashed on the scoreboard. Ottawa Senators teammate Marc Methot‘s left pinkie finger had been bloodied after it was slashed by Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby during a regular-season game in late March.

MacArthur, who was out of the lineup while recovering from a concussion, thought he saw something dangling from the end of Methot’s finger and guessed it might be a nail — which would have been painful and disgusting enough. But it was worse. Between periods, MacArthur went down to the dressing room to investigate the status of the Senators defenseman.

The training staff had already stitched the severed tip of Methot’s pinkie back on but showed MacArthur a close-up photo of the injury before repair that the veteran forward can’t unsee.

“It was unbelievable,” MacArthur said. “It was right out of the movies. Like, a horror movie.”

There was blood, there was bone. All exposed in a way it should never be.

“Oh yeah. It was rotten,” MacArthur said. “That photo should never be seen again. It was so bad. That’s just a tough spot. There’s no way that feels good today for him.”

Like any gruesome injury, there were two reactions: those who couldn’t look and those who couldn’t resist.

The whack from Crosby came just as Methot was entering the offensive zone and dumping the puck in deep. Inside his glove, the tip of his pinkie basically exploded from the pressure of the whack. Because he’s clearly infinitely tougher than most human beings, Methot calmly expressed his displeasure to Crosby, pulling off his glove to reveal the mangled, bloodied finger as he skated past both benches without even a wince.

It was in this moment that players on both teams had to make the call: look or don’t look.

“I looked at it,” said Penguins forward Carter Rowney. “It’s a very unfortunate situation. It was pretty nasty. I thought it was pretty disgusting. … It was the perfect timing, perfect place — one in a million times that’s going to happen, right?”

“I saw it when I looked on the JumboTron,” said Penguins forward Scott Wilson. “Fingers are gross, I find. Just in general. Anybody gets a finger injury, it doesn’t look pretty.”

“Some of the guys were squeamish with it,” Senators forward Zack Smith said. “It’s not like I had to look away, but it was more shock.”

“I was one that didn’t want to look at it,” Senators goalie Craig Anderson said. “I’ve seen the replays now on TSN. They keep throwing it up there.”

According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, each hand has 48 named nerves in it — three major nerves, 24 named sensory branches, 21 named muscular branches. It’s why kids should cover their ears when mom or dad smashes a finger with a hammer. It’s painful. Methot would later say that he had sleepless nights because of the injury.

Teammates who saw him at the rink every day during his recovery could sense how painful it was while it healed. Smith said he had never seen anything like it.

“It was like, ‘How long is the guy going to miss? His finger blew up,'” Smith said. “I’ve never heard of a pressure wound that extreme, to literally blow up.”

The answer was 23 days. Methot’s pinkie was severed March 23, and somehow he was back in the lineup for a playoff game against the Bruins on April 15.

“The guy is a warrior,” Anderson said.

It’s fair to say that the Senators might not have advanced as far as they have without him, as their margin of error is so thin. After going the entire regular season without a goal, he now has two in the postseason after scoring against the Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The considerable edge Ottawa has on defense, given how battered by injury the Penguins’ blue line has been, may be the biggest reason the Senators have opened a 2-1 series lead on the reigning champs. Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is the best blueliner in the world right now. Dion Phaneuf has rolled back the clock and is providing some vintage Phaneuf, crushing players in his path. And then there’s Methot.

The scoring is a bonus from the 31-year-old, but Senators coach Guy Boucher was quick to praise his all-around game.

“It’s his size, his mobility. His gapping is terrific. He finishes checks,” Boucher said of Methot after Game 3. “He’s got a terrific stick. Since we’re very aggressive forechecking in the offensive zone, our D’s are pinching a lot, and we step up a lot in the neutral zone. A guy like that is really important.”

The slash from Crosby on Methot in March generated plenty of debate, especially since it didn’t draw a penalty. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk weighed in at one point, disappointed that there were no repercussions from the league.

Players on both sides said there has been no lingering animosity in this series because of the slash. There’s just too much on the line right now to worry about something that happened two months ago. Methot hasn’t mentioned anything to Crosby about it.

“In the playoffs, I don’t want to go out of my way to put our team in jeopardy, you know what I mean?” Methot said. “It’s not a personal vendetta, or whatever you want to call it. I put that aside.”

For the most part, the pain is gone. There’s a little restriction because of the special glove Methot has to wear. He said the two fingers are wedged together while he plays, and at this point, the pinkie is still numb. All things considered, he can deal with that.

“There’s not much feeling there,” Methot said. “It’s come a long way.”

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