Gretzky leaves in stitches, but no one is laughing

April 23, 1991|By Los Angeles Daily News

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Wayne Gretzky, used to playing in front of screaming crowds, watched Game 3 of the Smythe Division finals last night in the relative quiet of the basement of the Northlands Coliseum, accompanied by the sound of the ringing in his ears.

That ringing, along with a headache, about 25 stitches by his left ear and doubts about his status for Game 4 were the product of a puck Gretzky took to the left ear late in the first period that took him out of the game, which his Los Angeles Kings lost in double overtime, 4-3, to the Edmonton Oilers.

Kings team doctor Steve Lombardo said Gretzky's status for Game 4 wouldn't be known until today, and possibly tomorrow.

Gretzky was in a lounge near the Kings' locker room, with owner Bruce McNall and general manager Rogie Vachon, when Esa Tikkanen scored 48 seconds into the second overtime to give the Oilers a 2-1 edge in the seven-game series. Gretzky returned to the team hotel without talking to reporters.

Gretzky, who already had taken a stick behind the ear from Tikkanen earlier in the game, was hit by a slap shot from teammate Steve Duchesne with 2:30 to play in the first period. Gretzky immediately threw his helmet off and grabbed his ear, blood flowing down his neck as he skated back to the bench. Trainer Pete Demers put a towel to Gretzky's ear to stop the bleeding and after a short stay on the bench, Gretzky was helped to the locker room.

"He's hearing all sorts of noises in his ears," said Lombardo. "He has a headache and some dizziness."

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