Walter, Mouthguards, and You.

Lots of press recently (more so than when the incident happened, it seems) regarding Keith Tkachuk and his dental damnation.  Frankly, after reading James Mirtle’s two articles on Walt’s issues, I’m fairly insulted that he had to share the TSN No Guts, No Glory award for the season.  Ok, good on Nik Backstrom for blocking 3 shots in one game, but Jay McKee’s been doing that since the invention of water.  Name off the top of your head, though, the number of people who have scored a goal with their face.

Still waiting.

Yep, I didn’t think you could aside from Walt and his 535th goal scored as a deflection off of a TJ Oshie slapshot.  He’s been in front of the net for 18 years and hadn’t lost a single tooth until this past January 2nd.  He didn’t just lose one – he lost six, as well as a good amount of his upper jaw, which the shot shattered on impact.  I have never been more disturbed by something that I saw happen live in a hockey game, and still looking at Tkachuk makes me wince.  It’ll take a couple of years of reconstructive surgery to fix his mouth.

James Mirtle wrote a facinating piece in Saturday’s Globe & Mail regarding not just Walt, but with dentistry in the NHL in general - watch out for the Belanger tooth pull video right off the bat.  It sets the tone for the whole piece, which is one of the more cringeworthy – in a good way – pieces of hockey journalism I’ve ever read.

Mirtle followed that piece up with another one, not just on Tkachuk, but on the issue of mouthguards in the league in general – should they be mandatory?  My God, why the hell not?  They’re not the clunky ones of the NFL that are attached to the masks.  They’re thin, molded to teeth so they’re comfortable, and they’re light – and according to Patrick Kane, they double as a pacifier in a cinch!  It wouldn’t’ve helped Walt really, but for more incidental contact than that. they could save not just teeth, but root and nerve damage that is painful and difficult to fully repair.  And, of course, they help with prevention of concussions, which Marc Savard’s happy about, I’m sure.

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.