Updated April 19, 2023 - 11:25 am
Winnipeg Jets forward Morgan Barron wanted to get back on the ice as quickly as possible after suffering a gruesome cut during Tuesday’s playoff game against the Golden Knights.
But before he could, he had to use his phone.
“I texted my girlfriend and parents just to make sure they knew I was OK before I went back out there,” he said after a 5-1 victory at T-Mobile Arena in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
Barron suffered a nasty gash when his face struck the skate of Knights goaltender Laurent Brossoit in a pile of bodies in front of the net during the first period. He immediately got off the ice and to the locker room for treatment.
“I was trying to figure out if the puck went in because it was pretty close,” Barron said. “I kind of saw the skate coming and just an unlucky play, a little bit unfortunate. The first thought was that I could see out of the eye, so that was the main thing. It missed anything important. I had feeling and everything.”
The medical staff immediately got to work trying to close the wound. Barron praised them for making sure it was treated efficiently and properly, giving him a chance to return to the game. That required more than 75 stitches, according to team officials.
Barron wasn’t sure of the exact number. The 24-year-old had his mind on other things.
“From what they told me, as soon as he was laying down and getting stitched up, he was telling them he has to get back (in the game),” coach Rick Bowness said.
Barron’s teammates got their first look at the damage when they returned to the locker room after the first period.
“It looked like he got attacked by a shark,” forward Adam Lowry said. “It’s a scary thing. We were all so worried about whether the puck would cross the line, and all of a sudden we see a trail of blood from the crease to the bench, and you don’t know what happened.
“But the doctors did such a great job of closing it up and protecting it, there wasn’t a question of if he was coming back, it was just when.”
Barron returned to the game in the second period with a full face mask to protect the stitches. He finished with 10:44 of ice time, recording five hits and three shots on goal.
“He came back, and he was looking at me like, ‘I’m ready,’” Bowness said. “Of course, he went right out and banged into somebody. We’re all in, and Morgan was a perfect example of that. That takes a lot of courage. That was a pretty serious cut. Give him a ton of credit, and that’s an inspiration for our players as well. Morgan’s presence coming back from that gave everyone a big boost.”
The Jets definitely looked inspired when they returned to the ice to start the second period.
Kyle Connor scored 1:24 into the second, and Pierre-Luc Dubois netted the decisive goal a minute later.
“You see a teammate come back and battle and have no fear out there, and he plays a hard game, it means something,” Connor said. “That’s a pretty scary moment. Obviously just happy he’s OK. He’s about as tough as they come. That’s about all I can say.”
Barron is expected to play in Game 2 on Thursday. That comes as no surprise to his teammates.
“To sit on the table and get stitched up and miss basically an hour and come back speaks volumes to his heart,” Lowry said. “It’s tough to come back when you sat that long, but he created some great chances for our line and had a great game.”