James Neal, who has played only one period of hockey this season, allegedly hurt himself participating in an on-ice wiffle ball game, according to a report from 970 ESPN Pittsburgh. The 26-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins star left the team's season opener last Thursday with what coach Dan Bylsma called an upper body injury. Neal, who ESPN said has an injury "similar to a strained oblique," was playing wiffle ball as part of a Penguins video tribute to the Pirates. The <italics>Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</italics>, meanwhile, reported Penguins GM Ray Shero said the wiffle ball story is "Not accurate, 100% not true." True or not, here are 20 other bizarre injuries that have been suffered by NHL players through the years...
2 of 21Kevin Mazur/WireImage; David Birkbeck/Getty Images
On Labor Day weekend 2013, Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predators was bitten on the hand by a chipmunk that had gotten into his house. The savage attack was captured by Fisher's wife, singer Carrie Underwood, in a Vine video.
3 of 21Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo, John Manno/Getty Images
While playing golf in Ottawa on Aug. 15, 2013, Claude Giroux's golf club shattered and the splinters injured his right index finger. "Although there were no broken bones, there was some damage to his extensor tendons in his finger," Flyers FM Paul Holmgren said in a statement. "He is expected to have a full recovery in 5-6 weeks."
4 of 21Jeff Vinnick, Agnieszka Kirinicjanow/Getty Images
In January 2012, Dustin Penner of the Kings famously hurt his back when he leaned over to eat pancakes. "I woke up fine, sat down to eat and it locked right up," he told <italics>LA Kings Insider</italics>. "It never happened to me before. I couldn't stand up. I was probably at the third stage of evolution. So my wife helped me get dressed, and then I drove to the rink here, to hope they could do some magic and get it opened up. Kinger [trainer Chris Kingsley] just looked at me and said, 'Go home.' So I got some treatment and went home."
5 of 21Jason O. Watson/USA Today Sports
During a December 2011 game against Edmonton, Martin Havlat of the Sharks hurt himself climbing over the boards on a line change and had to leave the arena with the aid of a walking stick.
6 of 21NHL Images, Fuse/Getty Images
Erik Johnson of the Blues tore two ligaments in his right knee when his foot got trapped between the brake and the accelerator of the golf cart he was driving during a team outing in September 2008. He needed surgery and missed the entire season.
7 of 21David Zalubowski/AP; Jim Reed/Getty Images
While recovering from a herniated disc in his back captain Joe Sakic of the Avalamche broke three fingers and damaged a tendon in his left hand while operating a snowblower in December 2008. He needed surgery and missed the rest of the season.
8 of 21Chris Lee/AP; David E. Klutho/SI
It was a banner year for freak injuries. Not only did 2008 claim Erik Johnson (golf cart) and Joe Sakic (snowblower), but Blues goalie Manny Legace hurt his hip when he fell after slipping on a carpet that had been laid out on the ice in St. Louis for Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who was on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck before a game on October 24. Legace played the first period, but had to leave the game when the injury started to act up.
9 of 21Ronald Martinez, Carlos Gawronski/Getty Images
Defenseman Brent Sopel sat out the Canucks' 2007 playoff opener in Vancouver because of a crumby injury: "He picked up a cracker yesterday and his back blew out and just spasmed out," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told the media. "I swear. He was trying to pick up a cracker and anybody who has had back problems knows that can happen."
10 of 21Bruce Bennett Studios, Joe Potato Photo/Getty Images
Goalie Manny Fernandez of the Minnesota Wild missed playing time after he hurt his shoulder (or his back, depending on the report you read) while blowdrying his hair in 2005.
11 of 21Dave Sandford, Kelly Sillaste/Getty Images
Wade Belak of the Maple Leafs was forced to miss the opening game of the 2005-06 season after a spider bite caused his ankle to swell so much that he couldn't get his skate on.
12 of 21Bruce Bennett Studios, Rowan Allan/Getty Images
Goalie Ron Tugnutt of the Dallas Stars, who once made 70 saves for the Quebec Nordiques in a March 1991 game, pulled a groin muscle while tying his shoes in January 2004.
13 of 21NHL Images, Ian Walton/Getty Images
Defenseman Sami Salo of the Senators was bitten on the right calf by a venomous snake while playing golf in Finland during the summer of 2000. He ended up missing games that October due to complications.
14 of 21Stephen Dunn, gmcoop/Getty Images
During the 2000 offseason, goalie Glenn Healy of the Maple Leafs slipped while cutting the bag off his bagpipes, lacerated his hand, and needed stitches to close the wound.
15 of 21Paul Sakuma/AP; photosindia/Getty Images
Darren Turcotte of the Sharks was sidelined in January 1997 when he punctured his eardrum with a cotton swab just before a game. The injury was not unheard of in San Jose. In October 1991, Sharks defenseman Rick Lessard missed six games when he ran afoul of a Q-tip.
16 of 21Mitchell Layton, Rolf Hicker/Getty Images
Goalie Arturs Irbe of the Sharks broke finger on his left hand, severed an artery and suffered nerve damage when he was bitten by Rambo, his Labrador-Newfoundland mix in July 1994.
17 of 21Bruce Bennett Studios, Tetra images RF/Getty Images
Defenseman Brian Leetch of the Rangers broke his ankle when he slipped while getting out of a taxi in New York City in 1993.
18 of 21Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images; Mike Kemp/Getty Images
While rehabbing a back injury, Sylvain Turgeon of the Whalers suffered flash burns to his eyes when he stared at the ultra-bright flame coming from his welder's torch while working on his car in 1988.
19 of 21Bruce Bennett Studios, Robert Daly/Getty Images
New York Rangers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck sliced his left wrist and suffered never damage when he sat on and fell through a glass coffee table at his home in June 1988. He needed five hours of microsurgery.
20 of 21Bruce Bennett Studios, Lauri Patterson/Getty Images
Right winger Mark Reeds of the Blues suffered second and third degree burns on his right hand while making popcorn in January 1987. After heating some oil in a pan, he removed the lid and the oil burst into flames. As <italics>The New York Times</italics> reported: "Reeds, who will be out on a game-to-game basis, said he had analyzed the incident and discovered what caused the accident: 'stupidity.'''
21 of 21Bruce Bennett Studios, melhi/Getty Images
Devils winger Pat Verbeek had his left thumb sliced off and three fingers lacerated by a corn-planting machine on his farm in Ontario in May 1985. The digit was reattached and he didn't miss any playing time.
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