The Injury Guessing Game

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Russ Thaler of Comcast SportsNet was joking Monday at Kettler Iceplex about the Intentional Mysteriousness of Alex Ovechkin’s injury. The only thing the Capitals will reveal is that Ovie has a “nagging” ailment. How, Thaler wondered, does that differ from the “undisclosed” harm recently suffered by Jason Arnott?

Sports are never funnier than when they try to conceal the anatomical reason for a player’s absence. In hockey, teams don’t usually get more detailed than “upper body” or “lower body” – as if an ingrown toenail were the same as a pulled groin. Pro football provides a bit more information, but how reliable is it? (There are times when I think the trainer just spins a big wheel, and whatever comes up – pinched nerve, sprained ankle, plantar fasciitis – that’s what goes down on the report.)

It’s all a big game. I asked Mike Knuble, who’s been around a while, what his favorite Nebulous Description of an injury was.

“When I was with New Jersey,” Knuble said, “Randy McKay was listed once with `general soreness.’ That’s the best one I’ve seen.” He smiled. “Like we all aren’t generally sore.”


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About the Author
Dan Daly

Dan Daly

Dan Daly has been writing about sports for the Washington Times since 1982. He has won numerous national and local awards, appears regularly in NFL Films’ historical features and is the co-author of "The Pro Football Chronicle,” a decade-by-decade history of the game. Follow Dan on Twitter at @dandalyonsports –- or e-mail him at

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