NEW YORK - Madison Square Garden, arguably the world's most famous arena, has become a house of pain for the Flyers.
Over the last three years, four Flyers have left the ice with serious injuries. Todd Fedoruk became the latest casualty last night, taking a crushing right hand from Colton Orr to the face that left him temporarily unconscious in the opening seconds of a 5-0 blowout loss to the New York Rangers.
Fedoruk remained hospitalized overnight for observation at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York. General manager Paul Holmgren said Fedoruk had a concussion and some short-term memory loss but did not suffer facial fractures or other injuries.
"Everything checked out OK," Holmgren said.
On Feb. 17, Mike Knuble incurred multiple facial fractures in a collision with Brendan Shanahan at the Garden. In 2004, Jeremy Roenick and Keith Primeau suffered concussions in separate incidents at the arena.
Ironically, last night's game marked the return of Shanahan to the Rangers' lineup for the first time since he suffered a concussion in the collision with Knuble.
The sight of Shanahan being taken off the ice on a back board with his head immobilized in February was repeated 21 seconds into play when Orr drilled Fedoruk with an overhand right to the left side of his face. Fedoruk had reconstructive surgery on his face this season out in Anaheim, Calif., after a fight with Minnesota's Derek Boogaard on Oct. 27.
Fedoruk lay on the ice with his left hand raised at a right angle and twitching while the training staff and medics rushed to his side.
"I'm a little sore but I feel fine right now," Fedoruk said. "I remember everything. I looked at him and he said, 'Let's go.' He knocked me out on the way down. I got my bell rung. When I got off the ice, I woke up."
Since removing his protective shield before the all-star break, Fedoruk has had five fights as a Flyer. In his career, he has undergone facial surgery three times.
"The surgeries he's had, he's got basically a titanium face," general manager Paul Holmgren said, adding that he is not sure how many concussions Fedoruk has suffered.
In the start-of-the-game fight, Orr was seeking retribution for the last meeting between the two teams, when Fedoruk roughed up Jaromir Jagr, among others, during a 5-3 Flyers victory.
"He's been a little tentative in his fighting when he has fought," Holmgren said of Fedoruk. "It's got to take time, I think."
The Flyers said Fedoruk was fully cognizant when he was taken by ambulance to the hospital for a scan of his head and neck.
"It was a fair fight," Orr said. "It was a good fight. If you're hitting, he can hit you. So you want to hit him. The same thing could happen to me; it's just a fight.
"That's what we do. We wanted the points; we wanted to win that hockey game. You hope he's all right. . . . It's a tough game, but you don't want to see anyone get hurt like that."
The Flyers appeared shaken after the incident, while the Rangers seemed energized.
"It sucked the life right out of the building, the whole bench," Geoff Sanderson said. "The game takes a backseat. . . . That was scary, one of the scariest injuries I have ever seen, next to the last time we where here with Knuble and Shanny. It puts everything in perspective for you. Everyone is thinking, 'Is he OK?' "
Petr Prucha gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 3 minutes, 40 seconds on the game's first shot against Antero Niittymaki. Less than five minutes later, Ben Eager drilled Daniel Girardi. Orr then exited the penalty box from his first fight and went after Eager. Punches on both sides did not land as Eager wrestled Orr to the ice.
"It's a tough way to start the game when one of our physical players goes down like that," Eager said. "Everyone did pretty well to keep playing. . . . [Fedoruk] is a great team guy. He tried to set the tone. You can't win every fight."
Both teams eventually got into the game, but Niittymaki faced tougher chances than Henrik Lundqvist. The Swedish goalie came into the game with a 1.63 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in his last 19 games for New York.
The Rangers added two goals in the second period and two in the final period. Sean Avery finished with a pair of goals.
After the game, Shanahan seemed a bit unnerved.
"It was an eerie feeling," he said. "I had some flashbacks myself."