By John Vogl
UNIONDALE -- As paramedics stabilized his neck on a stretcher and prepared to take him to a hospital, Patrick Kaleta feared the worst.
"You get thoughts cruising through your mind there, hoping everything turns out all right, wondering if it’s my last game that I ever played, things like that," Kaleta said today in Nassau Coliseum. "Luckily, everything’s good and I’m able to come back and play."
Kaleta will return to the Sabres' lineup tonight after missing five games with the neck injury suffered Jan. 29. Toronto's Mike Brown boarded Kaleta, who turned his back on the approaching defender. Kaleta will do that in an attempt to draw a penalty, but he says it wasn't the case on that hit.
"That particular instance, I wasn’t planning on doing that because I didn’t see him coming," Kaleta said. "Obviously, you can say you’d do something different because the way the play ended up. But things happen for a reason, and I just roll with it."
Coach Lindy Ruff has made it very clear he doesn't want Kaleta to put himself in a vulnerable position again.
"I still think there’s a little bit of an onus on the player that’s attacking, but there’s an onus on the player that’s going to receive that hit, too, especially in Patty’s case, not to put your head in that position," Ruff said. "Drawing penalties in that fashion isn’t what we want. Drawing a penalty and injuring yourself for a couple weeks doesn’t make any sense."
taggedLindy Ruff | Patrick Kaleta