BOSTON — Mark Stuart‘s ironman streak has become a fading memory.
The Bruins’ defenseman played every game for the club in 2007-08 and 2008-09, but last year suffered through a string of injuries. He missed 26 games in the regular season and nine in the playoffs with a broken sternum, a broken left pinky finger and a serious infection in his hand.
He was completely healthy for the start of this season and hoped to play a full season again, but those hopes were dashed when it was revealed on Wednesday that he had a broken bone in the back of his right hand and a dislocated ring finger.
“The biggest thing going into this season after last season was trying to stay healthy,” Stuart said after Thursday’s morning skate at the Garden, as the rest of the Bruins prepared for a game against the New York Islanders. “So it’s very disappointing. I’ve just got to try to stay positive. I went through it last year, so I’m kind of a veteran with this now. I’m just going to work hard and try to get back as soon as I can.”
The injury actually occurred last Thursday when he blocked a shot against Tampa Bay, but Stuart played through the pain against Toronto on Saturday before further aggravating the injury in the first period of Tuesday’s game with Buffalo.
“I actually blocked a shot in Thursday’s game,” Stuart said. “I got it just solid on the back of the hand. It was sore and we took X-rays after Thursday’s game and they were negative. So we decided to see how it felt.
“It was sore, but we taped it up for Toronto,” added Stuart. “We actually planned on getting X-rays again after the game on Tuesday, but on like my third shift, all I did was make a pass, and the thing just caved in. It was just hanging on by a thread I think.”
Stuart will not require surgery, but had a cast put on the hand on Wednesday. He is expected to be out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks.
“I could manage, I could play with it,” said Stuart. “I wasn’t really shooting for those four days, but I could pass fine, and I played in Toronto. So I was just kind of hoping I could get through it, but it was just done on Tuesday.”
Stuart is trying to stay positive, and noted that this injury is a little better than the infection that he had to deal with last season. That required an IV tube pumping antibiotics into his arm, which in turn prevented him from working out or even skating as he couldn’t get sweat into the infection. He won’t have any such restrictions while staying in shape during his rehab this time around.
“The bright side is this time I don’t have a hole in my hand,” said Stuart. “So I can get on the ice and start sweating.”
Stuart also hasn’t lost his sense of humor. Asked if this injury was to the same hand as last year, he replied, “No, it’s the other one. I’m trying to even things out.”