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BOSTON (CBS) – As savvy and rock-solid as he is on the ice, Dennis Seidenberg is smart off of it.
And he recently used his sharp intellect to make sure he wouldn’t cost his team in the near future.
After a cut he above his left knee – the result of a collision with goaltender Tim Thomas last Saturday in Los Angeles – swelled up, he dropped his NHL machismo and reported the problem to the doctor. It wasn’t hurting him, but it looked unusual.
Seidenberg’s decision had to be doubly-tough considering he’s not only a veteran of a league where most NHL players subscribe to the “oh, it’s only a flesh wound” philosophy of life, but because his career has been built around his stoic nature and seemingly impenetrable, granite-lock body that glides around the ice and barrels through anything that gets in its way.
However, with the playoffs a mere couple weeks ago, Seidenberg summoned the doctors and then was off to the hospital to prevent an infection from growing too big to contain. He’s now day-to-day after missing his first game of the season Thursday, but it’s unlikely that this problem will cost him much time when the highest-stakes games roll around.
When asked about the decision to consult the medical staff considering the toughness level of NHL players, Seidenberg joked that guys usually wait “until it falls off.” But then he explained that he knew how serious the matter was.
“You have to be careful. I was here when [Mark Stuart] had that problem,” Seidenberg said about the former Bruins’ defenseman who missed a lot of time with an infected injury in his hand in 2009-10. “And as harmless as it seems, it’s dangerous. I mean you could lose your leg if it goes bad. So you’ve got to be careful with infections and you’ve got to be open about it. There’s no sense of hiding it and trying to not miss any time and at the end you miss three or four months. So it’s the best thing.”
Seidenberg missed just three regular-season games in 2009-10 before suffering the cut that cost him the playoffs. The Bruins missed him dearly that postseason. Last season he sat out just one game because the Bruins rested him in their season finale. He then went on to star in the 25 postseason games that led to the Stanley Cup championship, while he averaged 27:38 of ice time in the playoffs. This season, he’s averaging 23:58, which would be a career-high if it holds up at the level before the close of the regular season.
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When it comes to vital defensemen, Seidenberg is as important as they come to the Bruins’ cause with his positional play, physicality and shot-blocking. They’ll miss him for however long he’s going to be out. But at least he was wise enough to head this ailment off early on and avoid a long-term absence. For that, the Bruins might be thanking Seidenberg if they’re leaning on him for major minutes by late May.