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Once enough for Yushkevich. McCleary horror brings back bad memories for Leafs defenceman
By MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun
TAMPA -- Getting smacked in the face by a speeding puck is a familiar scenario for Maple Leafs defenceman Dmitry Yushkevich.
That's why he isn't planning to watch replays of the horrifying incident Saturday in which Montreal Canadiens forward Trent McCleary almost died. McCleary was nailed in the throat by a shot from the Philadelphia Flyers' Chris Therien and needed an emergency tracheotomy.
Fortunately McCleary seems to be improving by the day.
"Maybe it's better that I don't see it," Yushkevich said. "My best wishes are with (McCleary) but you can't think about those things when you are on the ice.
"Otherwise you start thinking about your family, your future, and not about hockey."
If Yushkevich sounds well informed on the subject, he is.
During the 1998-99 pre-season, the Leafs were playing an exhibition game against the Canadiens. Midway through the second period, a Habs player jumped off the bench and carried the puck into the Toronto zone.
"I don't remember exactly who it was but I did lay down to block the shot," Yushkevich said.
"When the shot didn't come right away, I turned my head to see what was happening."
Just as Yushkevich looked around, the puck slammed into his forehead.
"I suffered a broken sinus," he said. "I couldn't skate for a week or so. That's why I wore a visor for all of last season. Any contact, and my nose would start bleeding.
"Whenever things like this happen, people are shocked and freak out. But you can't let that stop you from going out, playing the same way and continuing to try to block shots.
"If you see a car crash on television, you can't just say, 'I'm not going to drive anymore; I'm going to take cabs.' There are lots of car crashes every day. You can't worry about those things."
The incident against Montreal has not tempered Yushkevich from continuing to sacrifice his body by throwing it in front of opposing shots. The trick is knowing the proper technique.
"When you lay down like that, I always try to use my skates and shinpads
first. And you try to move your head on its side. That way, if you get
hit in the face, chances are you'll get hit in the cheekbone instead of