Tracking the Storm

Daniels: We Are Very Fortunate

Thursday, 02.19.2009 / 2:15 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Daniels: We Are Very Fortunate
The accident ended up with five in the hospital, but to hear River Rats Coach Jeff Daniels describe the bus crash his team went through on the way back to Albany from a game in Lowell, Massachusetts, it could have been much worse.

Paul Branecky
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“I just woke up just as it was all happening,” he said.  “We were losing control and kind of sliding, and all of the sudden I just remember flying from my seat up to the front of the bus into the front windshield.  The next thing you know when the bus came to rest, we were on our side.

“The front part of the bus was still on the highway in a lane, and we weren’t even thinking about other cars coming behind us, and we were fortunate to be missed by, I was told, two or three semi trucks. Once people came to their senses, some guys were kicking out the front windshield wipers, some guys were climbing out of the windows underneath the bus and some guys were climbing through the roof of the bus to a common area.  At that point, you then started to see which players and staff members were a little banged up and needed some treatments.”

The one-vehicle accident, reportedly caused by snowy highway conditions, occurred at around 3 a.m. Thursday.  While all 29 passengers went to the hospital to at least get checked out, the injuries to players Nicolas Blanchard, Casey Borer, Joe Jensen, Jonathan Paiement and radio commentator John Hennessy caused them to be admitted to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  They are all expected to be released sometime in the next few days.

“I know it’s not life-threatening, and from my understanding it’s also not career-threatening,” said Daniels of the hospitalized players.  “Some guys might miss a good portion of time this year.  I could guess on a couple of guys, but I don’t want to at this point until I get confirmation from the doctor of exactly what the injuries are.  The big picture right now is just their health.  Hockey is secondary for everybody right now.”

Although their injuries weren’t serious enough to keep them in the hospital, nearly everyone involved in the accident was hurt in one way or another.

“The guys that were released, they’re banged up from the impact,” said Daniels.  “From concussions to stitches, whether it’s their back or the feet from the glass, shoulder stiffness and back stiffness.

"It’s incredible to walk away from it and look back at the bus.  You feel fortunate that it wasn’t worse.  Everyone on that bus was at some point thrown from their seat to the other side of the aisle or to the front of the bus.  Everyone was affected by it, and to have everyone be able to walk or crawl out of the bus is just incredible and we are very fortunate."

Due to the number of players physically unable to play in the game, the mental state of the team and the damaged equipment that was on the bus, tomorrow night’s home game against Bridgeport has been cancelled.

The American Hockey League has given the team the option of not playing on Sunday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which Daniels says they will consider once they get over the initial shock of what happened – something that could be just as difficult as dealing with the physical pain.

“Everyone will probably be different with the way they handle it,” said Daniels.  “In an accident like that, the guys were incredibly calm even in shock.  I was really proud of the way the guys came together and helped out the guys that were in need.  We’re out there, it was snowing, it was 3:00 in the morning and there were guys in pretty much shirts and no jackets coming together and looking after one another.  It made me proud of them the way they handled it.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72