Stanley Cup finals: Marian Hossa mystery injury emblematic of hockey gamesmanship

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“I just didn’t want to tip our hand that there’s something going on,” the coach said.

“Ben was ready. I knew he was doing everything,” Quenneville said. “We were hopeful that Hoss was playing, and Ben was doing everything to get ready. He was ready.”

It worked.

“I’m still surprised,” Thornton said. “I don’t know what happened to him.”

No hard feelings, Bruins coach Claude Julien said. After all, he would do — and has done — the same thing.

“I respect that from other teams. When you’re playing against each other, you know exactly where everybody is coming from,” Julien said.

“There’s times where you have to protect your players, and I understand it. I know it’s frustrating for you guys as media. You’re trying to share that information. The most important thing for us, we can take the heat for that, is protecting your players.”

So, how to tell if an injury is minor?

When a team actually admits it exists.

“I’ll share one with you: Yesterday in a warmup, Zdeno Chara fell down, got a cut over the eye,” Julien said, making light of the mishap in the way that only a coach two wins from an NHL title will do. “I’ll let you know about that. That’s not a hidden injury.

“If it’s something that doesn’t put your player in danger, I don’t see why you shouldn’t talk about it,” he said.

Players say they don’t have to be told not to discuss injuries; it’s as much a part of the culture as Canadian accents and playoff beards. Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said he doesn’t remember when he first learned the subject was off-limits, but it was long before he reached the NHL.

And hockey players are not alone.

“It’s not just here,” Thornton said. “I don’t think Bill Belichick is (listing) all the injuries they have, either.”

But even the notoriously uncommunicative New England Patriots coach is required by NFL rules to say what body part is injured. NHL coaches have to narrow it only to “upper body” or “lower body,” which means a player with a concussion and one with a broken finger would have the same diagnosis.

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