Under the glare of a brand new $700,000 lighting system at the Bell Centre, 24 year old Hamilton Bulldogs Center Blake Geoffrion sustained a fractured skull in Friday’s AHL game which the Bulldogs lost to the Syracuse Crunch 4-1. The incident cast a very dim light on the first hockey game at the Habs’ home arena since April 7th in front of 18,582 hockey starved Montreal spectators.
As Geoffrion raced down the left wing boards, he was upended with a clean check by Syracuse defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote. The hit sent Geoffrion flying, landing hard on the ice surface. At first, his injury did not appear very severe, as Geoffrion returned to his feet and skated off the ice. But as the night progressed, the news about his injury worsened.
The Montreal Canadiens issued a press release stating Geoffrion underwent successful surgery for a depressed skull fracture and was in stable condition. After the surgery, he remained in the intensive care unit at the hospital and is expected to fully recover.
Geoffrion comes from a long line of hockey royalty, as he is the first fourth generation player in the history of the NHL. His great-grandfather is Hall of Famer Howie Morenz and his grandfather, Bernie ‘Boom-Boo’ Geoffrion was also a Hall of Famer who is credited for inventing the slapshot. His father, Dan Geoffrion, also played in the NHL. Geoffrion wears number 57, in honor of his grand father (#5) and his great-grandfather (#7).
In two NHL seasons with the Canadiens and Predators, the offspring has played in 55 NHL games, scoring eight goals and amassing thirteen points. In ten games with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs this season, he has four goals and two assists. Geoffrion was acquired by the Habs from the Nashville Predators, along with Robert Slaney and a 2012 second round draft pick, in exchange for veteran defenseman Hal Gill and a conditional 2013 fifth round pick.
As the NHL lockout continues to drag on, league owners lament about the financial risks involved in owning a hockey team. The severity of the injury to Geoffrion once again proves who the real risk takers are in a high speed and high impact collision filled game.