Chris Kelly thought he had been slashed. That is what initially went through his head as he lay on the ice in front of the Dallas Stars bench, his leg bent at an awkward angle and growing numb. The Bruins forward heard the Stars players calling for the referees, saw the play going on around him, and figured he had the whole scenario worked out in his head. He wasn’t even close.
Kelly, instead, had broken his femur in that Nov. 3 game without contact from anyone. It is an injury that has left him out for 6-8 months and put his career in jeopardy. Kelly, after all, is 35 years old and in the final year of his contract in an NHL increasingly hesitant to spend money on older players.
But he isn’t thinking retirement, not yet.
“That’s the furthest thing from my mind,” Kelly said Thursday, addressing the media for the first time since the injury. “I think age, in my opinion, is just a mind-set. I felt great coming into camp this year. The great thing about hockey is, as someone said, you always feel like you’re 24 even if you’re 19 or you’re 34.
“So I want to continue to play. I love the game. I love being around the guys. The guys have been great, and when you get an injury like this, you realize what a strong community the hockey world is. Lots of people reached out to me . . . so it was great to see.”
As strange as the injury was, Kelly said he didn’t know if there was an underlying weakness in the leg. It was “just one of those freak accidents that never happens.”
“I wasn’t quite sure what had happened,” Kelly said. “I knew when I was laying on the ice that my leg was numb and I couldn’t feel it. I had something in my head that I thought had happened [the slash] and it didn’t happen that way.
“I can’t feel my leg and [the Stars are] kind of in a little bit of a panic mode on their bench. So for a moment there, it was pretty scary not knowing what my leg was looking like. After the training staff and doctors came out, I was able to regroup and [Zdeno Chara] was able to help me off the ice, so it was good. I was able to get off without a stretcher.”
Kelly saw the surgeon Tuesday, got his staples out and took a look at the X-ray, with positive reactions on how he had progressed. Kelly, who was using forearm crutches Thursday and does not have a cast on the leg, might even be back on the stationary bicycle by next week.
The alternate captain would like to continue to be part of the team, always a difficult situation for an injured player.
“I don’t want to be a nuisance by any means, but I definitely want to be around the guys and help the guys,” he said.
His plan, for now, is to get through this injury the way he has gotten through others, including a spate of recent injuries that curtailed his last couple of seasons.
There was the broken fibula in 2013-14. There was the back surgery that cost him the 2014 postseason.
Now there’s this, an injury that has likely cost him the rest of the season, though Kelly is holding out hope for a return in a lengthy playoff run.
“I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me, which I don’t mind, and we’ll see what happens,” Kelly said. “I can’t predict the future. All I can do is worry about rehabbing and getting my leg to where it needs to be. I’m extremely confident that I’ll get there.”
Miller out, Miller in
Although there was no new information on the nature of Kevan Miller’s injury, word came on Thursday that the defenseman would miss at least the next four games, including the final two of the homestand and next week’s games in Toronto and Detroit.
Colin Miller slotted back into the lineup in Kevan Miller’s place after missing the last two games, one with a lower-body injury and one as a healthy scratch. That left Joe Morrow as the only extra defenseman against the Wild.
“He’s certainly back from his injury and deserving to be back in the lineup,” coach Claude Julien said of Colin Miller. “This young player has been improving all the time. His sitting out is not due to not being happy. When you win a game, 3-1, against Detroit [last Saturday] and your D’s are solid, should you punish somebody?”
“It’s just because of the rotation of D’s right now and, like I said, he’s very deserving of being in there. So he’s going to come in here and the way he’s improved and he moves the puck, he’s a guy that’s, to me, willing to get into the dirty areas of the ice with no hesitation, so he’s certainly improving as a young player.”
Frank Vatrano did not return after he took a hit into the boards from Nate Prosser at 6:49 of the second period. Vatrano went down, then got up gingerly and immediately skated off the ice and went down the tunnel. Coach Claude Julien would only say it was an upper-body injury . . . The game ended on a strange play. Matt Beleskey slashed Jason Zucker on the calf with time expiring, sending Zucker to the ice in pain. He was seen limping after the game. But the slash appeared to be little more than a tap. “I didn’t think it was that bad,’’ Beleskey said. “I did slash him but it wasn’t, I didn’t try to break his leg. I don’t think it did, either. Hopefully he’s all right.” . . . Beleskey exhibited more aggression than he has in most of his time with the Bruins, including a brief first-period fight with Brett Bulmer at 5:34. Beleskey had just one fight last season with the Ducks . . . Patrice Bergeron extended his point streak to six games with an assist. He has three goals and four assists during the streak.
Weymouth’s Charlie Coyle was in town with the Wild, along with an entourage of family and friends. He got a chance to go out to dinner with his family on Wednesday night, after his father picked him up from practice. “It’s always a nice feeling,” Coyle said of playing in his hometown. “Just got to treat it as another game, though. All of these people are usually watching just on TV, are just going to be in the rink, but it’ll be nice.”