Helgeson hit shatters glass
Albany rookie defenseman Seth Helgeson put Jordan Szwarz through a pane of glass near the Devils’ bench at 16:58 in the first period.
Szwarz, other than a couple scrapes, was no worse for wear. The fans sitting right on top of the action, though, had a bit of a shock and a few cuts.
Asking about the hit after the game, everyone’s thoughts immediately went to the fans, most to the boy sitting in the front row. Event staff sprang into action to clean up the glass and replace the pane, and to tend to the fans.
The boy was lifted by his father to bump fists with a couple Devils’ players through the opening created by the shattered pane, then he had a small spot on his arm bandaged. A woman sitting a bit farther back had a nasty cut on her arm, but there was no further report on how she fared.
Albany coach Rick Kowalsky has children ages 6, 9 and 10, so his attention went right to the young fan from the front row.
“Honestly, I was eye-to-eye with the kid and he was just freaking, Kowalsky said. “My concern was that he was cut, but I think it was just more of a shock. I’ve seen that, a very similar one in Trenton, and we had a player where ... you’re concerned about the players and the fans. The one in Trenton was when Trevor Kell actually got the glass all down his back. It didn’t hurt him real bad, but he couldn’t finish the game because it stayed in his shoulder pads. The little guy, I heard he’s doing well and was not hurt, but I think it’s just the shock of the explosion of the glass, the sound of it, the player basically on his lap. After the trauma of it went away, I heard he was fine. I was concerned because you can get in a situation where some of those shards of glass actually cut people, which I don’t know if it did or not tonight.
“I saw his dad calming him down. He kept saying ‘Ow, ow, ow,’ and I’m looking for blood. I think his dad even realized, ‘You’re OK, you’re OK,’ but I think it was just shock, understandably. They’re two feet from the glass there. It makes a loud noise.”
Farther away from the hit, Portland coach Ray Edwards had the same concerns. After that, he had to get his players ready during an early intermission to finish out the last 3:02 of the first period after intermission and before the official start of the second period.
“Just making sure everyone was all right. I think there was a little boy that got hurt,” he said. “That’s the first thing in our thoughts. Our guy actually got some pretty good scrapes from it, so I just wanted to make sure everyone was OK. The big thing there is that the period’s not over. So when you come back on, you want to make sure you finish that period with the right momentum and start the second period good. It’s a little bit different, because you’ve still got three minutes left in the period, but it’s important to end the period good.”
Helgeson also reached out to Szwarz to make sure he was OK.
“First you’ve got to wonder if anyone gets injured with that glass,” he said. “That’s probably the first thing that went through my mind with the player that got hit and some of the fans. I was glad nobody got seriously injured, but a couple of them were pretty shaken up. But it was a play that needed to be made. Needed to pinch off that guy coming down the wall and happened to break the glass.
“I asked him if he was all right, and he said he was all right. That’s the best thing for that. I saw a woman in the stands, she had a cut. That goes through your mind, but sometimes that happens.”
On a lighter note, I asked assistant captain Dan Kelly if he was jealous that he wasn’t the one who got to put someone through the glass. His mind went straight to the “hit of the game” that is awarded with video accompaniment to the Albany player with the best hit of the night. Oddly enough, and probably just because the Devils didn’t want to play video of an incident that injured a couple fans, Helgeson did not get the “hit of the game.” It went to Mike Hoeffel.
“I love the hit of the game,” Kelly said. “Helgey didn’t get it, and Hoeffel did, so I guess that’s a little justice.”