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Vancouver Canucks: Fans, THIS Is Why You Should Appreciate Sami Salo

Written on February 8, 2011 at 07:38, by HTTN

In September 2009, upon meeting Sami Salo at a social event before hockey season had begun, I jokingly said to him:

“Hey buddy, no more injuries this year, right? You’re going to play a full season?”

As he smiled and nodded, I immediately regretted my choice of words. I could see by the laboured look on his face that he had heard this sentiment a million times before. The worst part was that of all people, I knew exactly what his injuries had put him through; yet, for some inexplicable reason, I made that crack.

That same September, I was only 4 months past my own ACL repair surgery. Physiotherapists say it takes a full year post-surgery until the knee feels 100 percent again, so the mountain was still in front of me at that point.

Let me quickly tell you about myself: I play some form of hockey – ball, roller, sometimes ice – at least twice a week. I go for 2 fast paced, 30-45 minute runs and I’m also at the gym 3 or 4 times a week, training and staying in shape. In the summer I play ultimate and tennis as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no elite athlete. This is simply the way I live. I love being active, and I love the rush of playing competitive sports (even if I am no all-star).

I say all this so that you understand the blow to my lifestyle that this injury inflicted.

It was a freak snowboarding accident that did me in. I say freak because I was not taking a big air jump, pulling a “sick trick” in the halfpipe, or even flying down a run at a breakneck speed. It was my last run of the day, on my way down to the bottom of Whistler. I took a tiny hop and completely misjudged the landing – my knee buckled, and I fell to the ground with a searing pain through the leg.

That was the end of the life I knew (for a while), and the start of the longest year of my life so far. All of a sudden, free time galore. I had no hockey, no sports to play. I still had to go to the gym to stretch and do my rehab exercises, but it turned one of my favourite places from a site of happiness into a dreaded daily grind.

Please don’t feel like I’m making this into something it’s not. I would often thank God that this was the test he had put in front of me, rather than the trials and tribulations so many around the world have to battle throughout their lives. I kept it in perspective – it was only one year. Still, in my own life, it was more than a hurdle.

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Back to Sami Salo – at the age of 36 he has suffered no fewer than 40 injuries during his hockey playing career. The latest of which is a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered in the off-season, which to this point still offers no guarantee of a complete recovery.

Salo is not like me – just another person who’s into an active, healthy lifestyle. We’re talking about a professional athlete, someone who has dedicated his entire life to playing hockey, and whose sport has only given back grief.

Everytime Salo has been injured, it has been gut-check time. Will he have it in him to perform the rehab necessary to repair this injury? After the muscles, tendons, and bones are healed, will he be willing to get his body back into the same shape it was in before? We’re not talking about good shape, or excellent shape, we’re talking elite athlete shape.

This is sprint-on-the-ice for a minute and a half, rest on the bench for 30 seconds, get back out there and sprint again – to be repeated 30 times a game – shape. And at age 36, it takes about 5 times the effort to get back to that level as it does in one’s mid-twenties.

Is Salo injury prone? Perhaps he is. Or perhaps he simply has bad luck – the same way I did on that mountain when my ACL was ruptured. Well, my bad luck times 40.

What we do know is that Salo has been through more hardships than anyone to play for the Canucks this season – from broken ribs to back spasms to a sprained MCL to the legendary ruptured testicle.

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To me, he is 10 times the warrior of any of his teammates. Be it Glass with his undaunted fights, Ballard with his fearless shot-blocks, or Kesler with the undeniable fire in his belly, none have fought harder for this team than the quiet Finn.

When he returns, an ovation is in order. Canucks fans should appreciate the fact that for every sign of brittleness his body has shown over the years, his will-power has made up for it in spades.

Highlights of Salo’s First Game With the Manitoba Moose on Friday

  • http://twitter.com/transcendwebs Bruce Ng

    this guy is all heart! add to this the fact that you can play him wherever, whenever – power play, shorthanded, even strength, shut down pairing, block a shot, cannon from the point – Salo is the total package.

  • Christine

    great read!

  • B.O’B.

    Awesome article. I got the link on twitter through PiTB and at first I wasn’t going to look at it because I feared another “funny” take on Sami’s history of bad luck and injuries. I totally agree that a lot of respect is order for The Finnish MacGuiness and a warm welcome on Saturday night !

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, the jokes about Salo’s injuries have been overdone now. (Admittedly, we have been a part of them in the past). But this post shows how I really feel about his injury, and why I cringe everytime I see any player fall to the ice (like Ballard last night). Being labelled “injury prone,” must be the worst part of it, when they seem to be such random, unrelated accidents.

  • http://twitter.com/canucklehead07 Mila M.

    Thanks for the post, man. It really hits home. I, myself, suffered a nasty career-ending ACL/MCL sprain during my senior year of basketball. This Thursday marks 7 years since the accident. Even to this day I worry about getting injured no matter if I’m playing ball, tennis, floor hockey, or just on a run. I’m definitely no elite pro like Salo, but I can somewhat identify with him. Salo’s truly a warrior and he gets my respect!

  • Glen

    Good article HTTN. He’s definitely had his share of crappy luck. The ruptured testicle kind of sums it up.

    On a side note, how horrible is this broadcaster doing the moose/penguins game? I mean I have nothing against a homer broadcaster but this is just ridiculous.

  • http://twitter.com/suitoflights Joce

    Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. This really puts things in perspective and people
    HAVE taken Salo for granted, myself included, and people don’t realise just how much it takes to get back, to get back out there. It keeps happening to him, but he keeps coming back. I’m glad you wrote this, couldn’t have been written by anyone better, I don’t think.

  • http://twitter.com/RE4713 David Robert Thomson

    Agreed! Salo has been my fave d-man for as long as I can remember….the Canucks without him is like Transformers without Megan Fox (too soon?) and I have no doubt he will be given a standing O on the night of his return which we should rightfully name “Sami Salo Day” :D I hope Salo either rockets a shot past Kipper if he plays Saturday or injures a flamer (paybacks a bitch!)

  • http://twitter.com/RE4713 David Robert Thomson

    and I honestly don’t know why people even make fun of Salo’s injuries (especially the supposedly “ruptured testicle” did it even rupture??) the only person who you can make fun of regarding a nut joke would be that goalie Tuggnut xD Salo is a warrior in every sense of the word…great article!

  • vs

    Think it’s BS how the article says Salo is 10 times better than people like Ryan Kesler. Ya, maybe if Salo played the same amount of games as those guys he could show what he’s made of but he hasn’t. Big deal he scored 2 goals in a Moose game. When Edler comes back, and we still have Salo, the only place Salo should be is the 6th defensemen spot.Edler, Erhof, Bieksa and even Hamhuis worked hard this year to contribute to our awesome season. I wouldn’t hold my breath for Salo to be the star d-man of the Canucks.

  • Ablefish

    Hmmm, I don’t think you really got the point there, bud… :(

    Great article.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know where to start to fight back on this comment… so maybe I won’t bother…

  • SteelBalls

    I wish maybe you would hold your breath. Just until you pass out and can’t subject us to your idiocy. Name is “vs”, exactly like the terrible hockey broadcaster, who also knows nothing.

  • vanuckers

    <3 salo!

  • Scottycanuck22

    Awesome article true blue canuck fan we have not been the same without Salo this year. Can’t wait to see him back

  • Smallacre

    Thank you that was a great write up on a quite man who never seems to fight back against the folk that make snide remarks, It will be good to have him back, best of luck to him. BML

  • Alisha.

    This makes me appreciate, respect Salo A LOT more. He’s a hero in my eyes. Whatta’ trooper.

  • Jaggist

    What a man, Salo is, to block every shot aimed at Luongo’s holes, especially when he ruptured his testicles..Was it even ruptured? No real man could have done that.

    Salo deserves more credits than any other d-man in hockey. He can also score goals while being a d-man, he’s all in one package! Gotta love that guy =)

  • Alemming

    I love Salo. As CuJo once called him, “The Finnish McInnis” has one of the best shots in the league, is a good skater, and wins so many of those battles for loose pucks. Were he healthy for a whole season, everyone else would see why he’s one of the best in the league.

  • Spitfireace

    There’s no doubt Canucks are a better team with Salo in the line-up. Most people would hang up their hat and call it a day after all this. It’s a testament to his dedication and love of the game, he probably doesn’t need the money at this point. Yes, lets make Saturday Sami Salo day and give him a standing O!

  • Diannachristopoulos

    Thanks for simply putting it in a way that 100% of all hockey fans should understand. Let’s face it people, these athletes get injured. Some more prone to them than others but let’s not forget what it must feel like to the athlete that’s out that they’re not able to support their team. Cut Salo some slack and support him as a fan, a dedicated fan……as he is a dedicated athlete to our team and city.

  • Mouthguardin

    What a great article . It takes a injury sometimes to ourselves to completely understand what these athletes must go through on a regular basis. My props go out to Salo and always have. Lets hope the fans in Vancouver do give him the ovation he so justly deserves.

  • http://twitter.com/RonilDesai Ronil

    Such a valuable asset to the team and wish him the best of luck on his return. The team needs his talent and I hope he is as motivated as ever to come back with a vengeance.

  • http://vansunsportsblogs.com/2011/02/08/quick-hits-from-behind-5/ Quick Hits (From Behind) | Vancouver Sun Sports Blogs

    [...] to the Net – This is Why You Should Appreciate Sami Salo We like to poke fun at Sami Salo’s injury history (it’s sort of remarkable). But [...]